The Olympic Games may have cooled off, but the 2018 Wood Stove Design Challenge is just starting to heat up. The second round of finalists for this global competition have officially been chosen, so get ready to watch teams from around the world compete to design the next big thing in renewable energy. 

Thermoelectric generators, which run on renewable biomass, can keep you warm during the winter months and have the potential to generate enough electricity to power everything from your cell phone to rooms in your home. They can also help complement residential-scale solar power and battery storage, diversifying energy sources and improving the security and reliability of our domestic energy supply.

Despite this potential, the woodstove industry has yet to enjoy the technological gains that have swept the household appliance market over the last 20 years. That is why the U.S. Department of Energy’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) has teamed up with the Alliance for Green Heat (AGH) to help fund the fourth Wood Stove Design Challenge. 

Launched this past summer, the challenge invites inventors, universities, and manufacturers from across the globe to compete to design an integrated thermoelectric generator and wood stove that is optimized for both home heat and electrical power output. The other category of the competition requires competitors to build an automated wood stove, relying on sensors and microprocessors that enable consumers to “load and leave” and get maximum efficiency and minimum emissions.

BETO and AGH are pleased to announce the second round of finalists:

  • “509-1 Optimum” by 509 Fabrications, Inc. (Post Falls, Idaho): The 509-1 Optimum is the first stove designed to burn densified wood fuel logs, also known as Presto Logs. The stove is certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is 79% efficient, and can be vented out of the side wall, which substantially reduces installation costs.
  • “Kd2” by Unforgettable Fire (Vashon, Washington): Unforgettable Fire’s Kimberly stove was a finalist in the 2013 Wood Stove Design Challenge and is now commercially available. Their new Kd2 is a vertically stacked dual firebox stove designed to produce 75 watts of electricity via water-cooled thermoelectric generators and produce hot water for domestic needs or hydronic heating. The Kd2 power management system is being designed for integration with solar and wind generation systems.
  • Thermoelectric Generator for Wiseway Stove by Hi-Z Technology, Inc. (San Diego, California) and Northwestern University (Evanston, Illinois): The Wiseway Stove is an EPA-certified gravity-fed pellet stove that operates using no electricity. Hi-Z and Northwestern University will add a water-cooled thermoelectric generator to the Wiseway Stove that can produce up to 100 watts of power. The stove will also allow for hydronic heating and domestic hot water.
  • “ReBao” by Cygnoides Smart Energy Technology Co. (Beijing, China): The ReBao is a thermoelectric and automated residential stove designed for more efficient heating and electric power production. The stove uses a maximum power point tracker buck/boost converter to manage power from the thermoelectric generator for recharging the battery and powering a pump, fan, and Wi-Fi system. The stove uses a thermoelectric generator designed to produce up to 100 watts of power.

These teams, along with the first round of finalists, will have a chance to showcase their revolutionary wood stove technology on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 9–14, 2018. The event will be free and open to the public and will allow finalists to engage with policymakers, industry, and experts in the renewable energy community. 

Sound exciting? Then stay tuned to see which team will take home the gold. 

The Wood Stove Design Challenge is an important part of BETO's mission to support early-stage research and development to create transformative, sustainable bioenergy technologies that will help to grow the bioeconomy and promote a more prosperous nation. BETO will provide a total of $125,000 in funding to support technology that will allow millions of families to have access to affordable, efficient, and clean wood stoves. Utilizing the United States’ abundant renewable biomass resources can help provide affordable energy for Americans, as well as contribute to U.S. energy security, economic productivity, and overall competitiveness.