I'm a big fan of wood burning stoves and wood gas stoves. I love taking my Littlbug Jr. Stove and Zebra billy can with me on short hikes (it's too heavy for long hikes) and I like the idea of using small sticks, twigs and pieces of available wood as my fuel for cooking instead of having to carry liquid fuel with me to power my alcohol stove.
However, the one thing I dislike and continue to have a hard time getting used to is the build up of soot that occurs from nearly all wood burning stoves. Soot is probably the main reason why stove experts like Tinny from Minibull Design and other ultralight backpackers dislike wood burning stoves so much - they're just so messy.
Enter the BioLite Thermoelectric Camp Stove. The BioLite Stove claims to have reduced the smoke emissions from wood burning by 90% through clever engineering, and their patent-pending thermoelectric-fan technology almost eliminates the black carbon (soot).
Not only does the BioLite stove burn pretty much anything you put into it with incredible efficiency, it can also use the leftover heat that it generates to power up your cellphone or even a small light. It does this by converting a small amount of the fire’s thermal energy into electricity using the solid state thermoelectric generator, that in turn powers what they refer to as their "combustion improvement system" a.k.a. a small electric fan.
Here's how it works:
- You fill the main chamber of the stove with small sticks and light it
- Once the fire gets starts burning strong, the thermoelectric generator kicks in, powered by excess heat and spinning a small electric fan
- The fan separates the wood gas from the burning wood and forces it to mix with oxygen
- This creates a wood fire fierce enough to bring a one liter pan of water to the boil in just four minutes!
The BioLite Stove is not yet available on the commercial market but the designers hope to have a production version in stores for Spring of 2011. The price and precise launch date is still to be announced. Here is a great video of a BioLite prototype in action. I have to say it looks very promising!
Gear Links: Eastern Mountain Sports | REI | CampSaver | Patagonia | Altrec