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Can a Newfangled Wood-Burning Stove Save the World?

This clean-burning, Oregon-designed stove could be a boon to families in poor areas across the world.

By Alena Willbur September 18, 2018 Published in the Design Annual: 2018 issue of Portland Monthly

Imagine an energy-efficient, wood-burning stove that could be used not only to cook, but also to heat your home, charge your phone, and turn on your lights.

This is the Integrated Stove, in development by a Cottage Grove cookstove company called ASAT. In March, ASAT received $300,000 from the EPA to develop blueprints into a prototype. If it works, it could be a boon to families in poor areas all around the world. The stove would cost between $160 and $260—making it more accessible than some similar products.

“People have to use wood because that’s what they’ve got,” says ASAT designer Dean Still. “Some people don’t have the money to use electric or gas all the time, so we’re trying to help those people. If we can help them to burn wood really cleanly, then you have this wonderful carbon-neutral energy source.”

A thermoelectric generator, which has no moving parts, converts some of the heat into electrical energy. While old wood-burning stoves can cause respiratory problems and cardiovascular diseases after prolonged use, this design produces very little smoke. (The smoke that does escape the combustion chamber is captured in a washable filter in the chimney.) “If you can burn it cleanly, wood is a great carbon-neutral energy source,” says Still. “The tree takes in carbon dioxide when it grows and then it gives it off when it’s burned. If you use that source with sustainably harvested wood, then it’s carbon-neutral. It doesn’t add to pollution.”

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