OSU receives $ 2.5 million grant to create wood stoves that burn cleaner

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Fireplace retrofit uses air jets to help burn more efficiently

CORVALLIS, Ore. (KTVZ) – A team of researchers at Oregon State University has received a $ 2.5 million federal grant to work on reducing harmful emissions from wood stoves, the primary source of heat in Native American communities and in the low resource areas of the United States.

Nordica MacCarty of OSU College of Engineering is the Principal Investigator for the Department of Energy’s Award Bureau of Bioenergy Technologies.

MacCarty will work with three other OSU researchers, as well as tribal and industrial partners, to develop a combustion chamber modernization that uses turbulent air jet injection to help stoves burn more cleanly and efficiently – even under sub-optimal conditions, such as wet or overly combustible wood in the fireplace.

“Minimizing the impact of non-ideal stove operation is really important because this type of operation contributes the most to fine particle emissions, and it has often been overlooked in testing, research and development,” said MacCarty, Richard & Gretchen Evans Humanitarian Fellow. Engineering and associate professor of mechanical engineering.

“Our technology can also be applied to the future design of the combustion chamber, but the modernization will make possible rapid and affordable implementation in underserved and tribal communities who suffer disproportionate health effects from exposure to. wood smoke, ”she said.

There is an estimate 6.5 million inefficient stoves in the United States, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, most of them are older models that predate federal clean combustion standards.

In addition to requiring more fuel, a problem from both an economic and a durability standpoint, inefficient stoves can have a significant negative effect on chimney safety and air quality; The EPA notes that 20 stoves that don’t burn cleanly can combine in winter to emit more than a ton of fine particle pollution, or PM2.5 (the 2.5 refers to the maximum particle width in microns).

Preliminary tests suggest that a forced air and turbulent jet retrofit can reduce the PM of a stove2.5 up to 85% emissions, MacCarty said, which is good news on various health fronts. Exposure to particulate matter emissions is linked to asthma attacks, bronchitis and cancer and can worsen heart and lung disease, according to the EPA.

“Our initial focus is on tribal and low-resource communities, but the fundamental combustion findings and design rules we develop around forced air jet injection will also apply to wood-burning stoves, which are widely used in developing countries, ”MacCarty said. noted.

Collaborating with MacCarty from Oregon State are colleagues from College of Engineering Chris Hagen, based at OSU-Cascades in Bend, and David Blunck, as well as Shaozeng Zhang, assistant professor of anthropology at the College of the Liberal Arts.

The team also includes researchers from the Aprovecho Research Center, the Nez Perce Tribe, Combustion Consulting Services and Blaze King Industries; it will work with an advisory committee made up of representatives from industry groups, regulators and regional air quality programs.


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