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Fiery Competition at Wood Stove Decathlon

national-woodstove-competitionIt was a competition hotter than most as 14 wood stoves competed at the Wood Stove Decathlon. The stoves were lined up November 15 at Washington D.C.’s national mall and things quickly heated-up as judges graded competitors on renewability, efficiency, cleanliness, and cost. John Ackerly, President of the Alliance for Green Heat said, “The goal is to get people to be aware that this technology is efficient, we need to get wood stoves a facelift by showing there really is a high-tech future.”

Testing the stoves was more complicated than laying down a bearskin rug and curling up with a loved one.  Judges had to test temperatures during the middle of the burning process as temperatures are typically highest at the start and lowest at the end. “The sampling period is just 15 minutes,” said Tom Butcher of the U.S. Department of Energy. Participants were also required to burn the same type of dried wood, provided by Myren Consulting, to ensure the competition was fair.

Judges used ladders to measure emission levels from the stoves with suitcase-like devices specially designed for the competition. The devices are held over the stove to collect and assess the emissions. “We’re measuring primarily for two things: particulate emissions and carbon monoxide emissions,” Butcher said of the technique.

So, who flourished in the fight of the flames? Woodstock Soapstone of New Hampshire was awarded the $25,000 first place prize for its hybrid stove. The stove includes a regulator to guarantee efficient heat and regulate combustion. Plus, it has changeable plates to match any owner’s home.

Courtesy of Woodstock Soapstone

Woodstock Soapstone’s winning hybrid stove

Individual winners included HWAM for innovation, Travis Industries for lowest carbon monoxide emissions and also for market appeal, IntensiFire for affordability, the University of Maryland’s Mulciber for lowest particulate emissions, and Woodstock Soapstone for efficiency.

The warmth of the stoves spread to the winners’ hearts as Woodstock shared its prize money with two unsponsored teams – Walker Stoves and IntensiFire. The teams who tied for second place, Wittus-Fire by Design and Travis Industries, donated a portion of their $10,000 prize back to the Alliance for Green Heat.

According to government research, using wood for residential heat has increased in the U.S. by about 40 percent over the last decade. Advocates for wood stoves want to make sure the method is safe for the environment as well as an efficient way to stay warm. Ackerly said, “Given the robust demand, proponents of wood stoves want to ensure environmental sustainability, but future economic growth as well.” Overall, the competition was a success, leaving nobody out in the cold.

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