Wood stoves that don't smoke
The EU's 2020 climate and energy strategy partly relies on an increase in the use of biomass for household energy production. Small, wood-fired heaters represent an eco-friendly and cheap solution if researchers can reduce carbon emissions from these combustion systems. This was the objective of the EU-funded 'Clean air technology for biomass combustion systems (Biocat)' (BIOCAT) project. It investigated ways to integrate a catalyst into existing or newly developed wood stoves. When wood burns, it oxidises due to the reaction with oxygen in the air. The use of a catalyst could improve the burning process to the extent that emissions are reduced. Researchers began by testing various catalytic materials until they found a suitable candidate for integration into small-scale wood stoves. The testing involved simulating the behaviour of a small-scale stove in the laboratory. Next, the team developed methods to assess and optimise the performance of an integrated catalytic system using their chosen catalyst. They chose five stoves for this purpose in order to reduce emissions and increase the efficiency of individual combustion units. After these primary optimisation efforts, prototypes were created and tested in independent laboratories. Several of the prototypes achieved project targets for reduced emissions. The BIOCAT project has thus produced a number of new heating appliances with little or no carbon emissions. The project's approach seems to be a promising technological solution to the problem of carbon emissions.
Wood stoves, biomass, household energy, combustion systems, clean air technology