Tuesday, August 25, 2020

DOE request input about wood heater R&D needs

The Bioenergy Technologies Office of the US Department of Energy has begun to provide R&D funding

to the wood heater manufacturing community.  To date, it has had two rounds of funding, with $10 million available.  The DOE provides R&D funding to many different renewable energy technologies to "enable sustainable ... energy security, reliability and resilience while creating economic opportunities across the country."  The Bioenergy Technologies Office "selects research and development projects through open and competitive procurements called Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOA) and encourages collaborative partnerships among:

  • Industry
  • Universities
  • National laboratories
  • Federal, state, and local governments, and
  • Non-government agencies.

Now, the DOE is asking for input from the extended wood heater community about what the community needs to build cleaner and more efficient stoves.  This likely indicates that they may change the focus of their funding next year.  In the past, they provided funding for 

  • Novel and innovative residential wood heater designs to improve combustion chamber geometry, combustion air flow distribution, mixing of combustion air with gasification products, stove baffling designs, etc. 
  • Improvements in automation of stoves to optimize combustion control. 
  • Wood heater power generation via thermoelectric module integration 
  • Improvements in catalyst technologies for emissions reduction

Input should be sent to FY21MultiTopic@ee.doe.gov and is due by 5:00 PM September 21, 2020.  We have reproduced the details of the Request for Information below (except we omitted language about a parallel ROI on biofuels). For the full text, click here.

FY 2021 Bioenergy Technologies Office Multi-Topic RFI (DE-FOA-0002386)

DATE:           August 20, 2020 
SUBJECT:     Request for Information (RFI) 


The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) is requesting information on research opportunities related to residential wood heater technology advancement 


The purpose of this RFI is to solicit feedback from industry, academia, research laboratories, government agencies, and other stakeholders on issues related to overcoming the technical barriers and challenges in the design of clean, efficient residential scale wood heaters. EERE is specifically interested in information on identifying the critical technology gaps and resources required to significantly reduce emissions and improve efficiency of residential wood heaters. Gaps of interest include but are not limited to the stove design, automation, catalyst development, retrofit technologies for older wood heaters, sensor technology, and stove performance testing methods. 

This is solely a request for information and not a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA). EERE is not accepting applications. 

Category 1: Residential Wood Heater Technology Advancement 

Technological Barriers 

1. What are the critical technical hurdles for improving performance of stoves for new installations (e.g. combustion chamber design, combustion air management, controls, mixing, sensors, etc.)? 
2. What are the critical technical hurdles for improving performance of stoves already installed in homes (e.g. combustion chamber design, combustion air management, controls, mixing, sensors, etc.)? 
3. What practical and new techniques are used to significantly reduce transient emissions (startup, shutdown, load changes)? 
4. What practical and new techniques are used to measure transient emissions that could be implemented in laboratory or field testing? 
5. How can new exhaust emission control technologies be developed and practically deployed? 
6. How could integrated hybrid systems, in which biomass heaters are combined with other technologies such as heat pumps, solar, and high efficiency gas and liquid-fired appliances, be a route to reduced emissions? What are the technology barriers to this approach? 
7. How could field measurement methods be improved to ensure that biomass-appliances do not create local air quality issues in long-term use? 
8. What stove features commonly encourage end-users to purchase new or replace a wood heater? Or, what stove features are commonly attractive to the end-user? 
9. What advantages or disadvantages would continuous field performance data provide for advancing stove designs? 

Tools and Capabilities

1. How are trial-and-error test methods used to improved stove performance and advance stove design (i.e. development by implementation of incremental change and testing)? 
2. Is access to performance testing facilities a barrier to development? 
3. What in-house test methods are relied upon to validate and facilitate wood heater development? 
4. How much could rapid performance measurement methods shorten R&D test cycles? 
5. What specific test methods would be of interest to your enterprise? 
6. How are modeling and simulation tools being applied to improve wood heater designs? 
7. How could modeling and simulation tools be improved to meet your needs? 
8. What are the fundamental modeling gaps to enable broader use of modeling and simulation such as Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) to improve wood heater design? 
9. How are current measurement methods meeting your needs for evaluating performance and emissions from wood heaters? What could be done better? 
10. What performance/emissions measurements are most challenging to obtain? What makes obtaining these measurements challenging? 
11. What are three primary challenges your enterprise faces for advancing stove designs?

 Request for Information Response Guidelines 

Responses to this RFI must be submitted electronically to FY21MultiTopic@ee.doe.gov no later than 5:00pm (ET) on September 21, 2020. Responses must be provided as attachments to an email. It is recommended that attachments with file sizes exceeding 25MB be compressed (i.e., zipped) to ensure message delivery. Responses must be provided as a Microsoft Word (.docx) attachment to the email, and no more than 6 pages in length, 12 point font, 1 inch margins. Only electronic responses will be accepted. 

EERE will not respond to individual submissions or publish publicly a compendium of responses. A response to this RFI will not be viewed as a binding commitment to develop or pursue the project or ideas discussed.

Please identify your answers by responding to a specific question or topic if applicable. Respondents may answer as many or as few questions as they wish. 

Respondents are requested to provide the following information at the start of their response to this RFI: 
• Company / institution name; 
• Company / institution contact; 
• Contact's address, phone number, and e-mail address.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Tall wood stoves: an elegant tradition lives on, mostly in Europe

Tall stoves evolved in Europe partly because smaller homes and apartments had little space. Tall stoves also offer space for thermal storage, which is also more needed if your wood supply mainly consists of smaller diameter logs. 

Vertical fireboxes are still the norm in Europe but they rarely reach the heights they used to, except as masonry heaters. Today, the vertical European firebox style typically accommodates shorter and smaller pieces of wood, good for a evening fire, but not to hold heat overnight.  

The abundance of cheap wood in America led to less of a priority on thermal storage.  Instead of using less wood, and capturing more of the heat, Americans were able to design stoves that held logs big enough to slowly burn overnight in horizontal burn chambers.  

More vertically oriented stoves were common in America in the 1800 and 1900s in the iconic potbelly stoves, designed as much for coal as for wood.  All sorts of “parlour” stoves also had vertical shapes, designed as heat exchangers so that heat would be transferred to the room before going too quickly up the stack.  The poor man’s heat exchange used to be longer single walled pipe that would snake vertically and then horizontally through a room, often collecting and dripping creosote before exiting the room. 

Visit our other international photo essays on firewood collection and stacking, wood fired hot tubs, tiny stoves for  tiny homes boats & RVs, and typical wood stoves from countries around the world.

The original tall masonry stoves may have emerged in central and Eastern Europe in the 1600s but were rarely this ornate.  These would represent heaters built and used by very wealthy families but the inside design and operation was common in middle class families as well.  See more photos and histories on this site

Tiled masonry heaters like this emerged in the 1800s and were common in the 1900s.  They had cast iron and then steel doors, clean out caps, warming ovens and were site built to go as high as they could. 

In the 1960s and 70s, thousands of these hold masonry heaters were destroyed as fossil fuel became cheap and widely available.  And, despite their design to burn hotter and faster than modern steel stoves, as populations increased and cities and towns became larger all over Europe, they began to pose significant pollution problems.

Howell Harris, perhaps the world’s leading historian on wood stoves discusses the demand for very tall stoves, emphasizing their use in non-residential settings, “including "Halls, Nurseries, Nurseries, Churches, Public Offices, Stores, Counting and Green Houses, Work Shops, Steam Boats and Ships' cabins, &c. &c." and also of the shared interest of the inventor and his customers in maximizing heat output and fuel economy.   His site has as much or more detail than anyone could hope for along with scores of high-quality photos.

Many of these elegant, tall stoves, made either of cast iron or tile, were designed for coal, but could also use wood.

While stoves like this are available on the North American market they are almost all imported from Europe and remain far more popular there.
The Victorian Age is reflected in the designs and names of parlor stoves. These stoves simulate the architecture of castles, Gothic churches, and Italian villas. They are also lavish and intricate in design. Made at the height of cast iron technology, such stoves display some of the finest examples of casting known today.  Antiquestoves.com has many more examples. 

The evolution of Danish Morso stove designs from 1854 to 2008. around the turn of the century, when Morsø began to produce and provide tiled stoves and heaters to schools, churches, the railways, ministries and not least to the royal household. This put Morsø seriously on the map, and in 1915 Morsø received the coveted title of Purveyor to the Royal Court. In the 1950’s, the tiled stoves were replaced by central heating, but opened but opened space for wood-burning stoves in which you can see the flames,