Image credit: Paul Wheaton
Earlier today, I posted a video from Paul Wheaton on a wood-based design for a wood-burning rocket mass stove. As I was looking for follow ups on the project, I came across this related interview, in which Paul talks to wood heating engineer Ernie Wiesner about a rocket mass stove that he built to replace a traditional wood stove.
The claims he makes about its fuel efficiency are pretty astounding.
It's well documented, of course, that there are major environmental concerns with burning wood for heat. While theoretically renewable, from land-use issues to air quality, a mass adoption of wood for heating would likely cause as many problems as it would solve.
But, as with any energy source, one of the first steps that we can take to make it greener is to use it much more efficiently. And advocates for rocket mass heaters claim that this technology does just that. Much like masonry stoves, they use thermal mass to provide a long-term release of stored heat over the whole day. And they also use the design principles and operation methods of rocket stove cookstoves (including burning small tree clippings, instead of large logs) to create an extremely hot, efficient fire that quickly builds heat in the surrounding thermal mass.
Still, the claim that this stove cut fuel use from 4 cords a winter to just under half a cord is rather astounding. And judging by the comments under the YouTube video, there are plenty of people who would like to have more information about how the thing was used. There are also plenty of fascinating discussions of rocket stoves and rocket mass heaters in the Alternative Energy forums over at Permies.com.
More on Rocket Stoves
Building a Wood-Burning Rocket Mass Stove. From Wood. (Video)
Rocket Stoves Aid Relief in Haiti
Build Your Own Ultra-Efficient Cookstove (Video)
Efficient Cookstove Movement Faces Divergent Approaches