The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO), in collaboration with Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), and the Alliance for Green Heat, is excited to announce the winning teams for the Wood Heater Design Challenge (WHDC), offering a total of $120,000 in prize funds. Congratulations to Davidon Industries from Warwick, Rhode Island, which won the first-place prize of $40,000 for its ingenuity in developing the next generation of efficient and clean energy wood heater technologies. The judges unanimously agreed that Davidon’s mechanically automated, combustion-air control technology for cordwood heaters demonstrated consistent performance, minimal energy input requirements, and a high potential for commercialization.

Aprovecho Research Center, from Cottage Grove, Oregon, came in second place and won $25,000 with a novel burn pot, airflow configuration, and sensor package for pellet heaters. Kleiss Engineering from Cloverdale, Indiana, won the $10,000 third-place prize with a smart wood stove heater with advanced control valves, minimal power constraints, and cost-effective manufacturing design.

“Embracing innovation allows us to challenge existing norms, push boundaries, and discover new solutions that can reshape the entire industry,” said Dr. Valerie Sarisky-Reed, Director of BETO. “Wood stove research is part of DOE’s overall strategy to develop affordable bioenergy technologies and convert our nation’s renewable resources into fuels, power, products and in this case, more efficient wood stoves for homeowners.”

The WHDC brought together some of the brightest minds in the industry, showcasing innovative advancements in wood heater technology. All the teams demonstrated novel approaches that pushed the technology boundaries of automating wood heaters. With further development and optimization, these technologies have the potential to support the next generation of cleaner wood heaters.

There are an estimated 12.5 million homes in the United States that use wood or pellets for space heating, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. For decades, wood heater technology has enabled this country to reduce fossil fuel dependence and it remains a vital way for middle- and low-income households to affordably heat with a low carbon, renewable fuel. The WHDC spurs development of more efficient wood heater technology that is lower in emissions for America’s renewable energy future.

Aprovecho, Davidon, and Kleiss were selected from nine teams competing at the Wood Heater Technology Slam in September 2022. Teams pitched new wood stove ideas to retailers, the public, and experts, who assessed which stoves were the most innovative, efficient, and offered the greatest market potential. The three finalist teams moved forward to the testing phase of the competition, which was held this past spring at BNL in Upton, New York.

Learn more about the BETO-funded Wood Heater Design Challenge.

The WHDC is a collaboration between DOE’s BETO, BNL, LBNL, and the Alliance for Green Heat. The goal of the WHDC is to rapidly develop cleaner and more efficient wood heaters to help meet the challenge of decarbonizing residential heating.