Unless you heat your house with wood (and this is not the primary method in most first-world cities) or cook with wood (also uncommon), you probably don’t know that burning open fires for heat or cooking is actually inefficient—and dirty. Open wood fires waste energy and create toxic fumes. But what if you could make the process more efficient and cleaner? Thanks to inventors Alexander Drummond and Jonathan Cedar, who first met and collaborated at Smart Design in New York City, you can improve the wood-burning process.
Biolite HomeStove. Designed by Alexander Drummond and Jonathan Cedar. Manufactured by BioLite.
Wood Burning That Produces Electricity
Their BioLite stoves convert “a fraction of the fire’s thermal energy into electricity to power our combustion improvement system.” And the BioLite stove goes one step further by generating excess electricity, which can then be used to charge small electronic devices like cell phones and LED lights. The inventors’ foundational idea was to “apply efficient design to real world problems”—and BioLite is doing just that. The company’s HomeStove is designed for use in developing countries, where an estimated 2 billion people still cook with wood or other biomass.
BioLite has been given various awards and fellowships for its “Waste Heat to Electricity” technology. In September of 2010, United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton commended the company when she spoke about the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, a new public-private partnership led by the United Nations.
For those living in the developed world, BioLite offers CampStove, intended for campers and outdoor enthusiasts. Ideally—after they’re done tackling the more immediate problems of other countries—BioLite might develop other applications for use in the developed world. For example, many rural residents in the U.S. still heat their homes with wood stoves (as I do, living in the Colorado mountains). I would love to see BioLite technology applied to a more efficient, cleaner wood stove. And it would be an added benefit if our wood stoves could also produce some excess electricity.
About the Manufacturer: Biolite develops and produces advanced energy products that make cooking with wood cleaner and more efficient. The company’s mission is to combine functionality and sustainability at the worldwide level: “We feel a strong sense of responsibility not just to develop products that work well but also to create businesses that make a positive contribution to the global community.”