There are examples of tiny wood stoves in vans, usually tent stoves or ammocan stoves. It is not easy to do safely. A big problem is the vacuum that is easily created in a van from the wind gusts causing a backdraft problem.
I did put a liner in the bottom of a big pocket rocket, it did help keep the heat off the bottom. I did it to make the barrel last longer, getting the heat to the side was a bonus. To get enough mass to be useful, you will no longer be mobile.
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Kailo Kanadian : Because so much air is sucked / pushed through a Pocket Rocket you are actually creating large air currents, event though you are getting a lot of radiant
heat energy inside your space, and the walls are warming up most of your warmed air will be sucked out of the van as part of the process of feeding oxygen to the fire, as
soon as the fire goes out your space will be cold ! Sorry, I hope this motivates you to fine winter housing better suited to you ! BIG AL!
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chronic problems with small spaces, especially mobile ones:
hard to put enough mass in them to make a difference, hard to do radiant heat safely.
One option would be to get a stove designed specifically for small spaces - like a diesel boat heater if it's a diesel van, otherwise maybe something electric or propane - and then add thermal mass inside the van's insulation. Like jugs of water or a big stockpot somewhat near the heater. This could hold quite a bit of heat (more than cob would, actually) but be easy to empty for travel. You don't want to boil the water in there though, unless it's a big open pot with some room under the lid to prevent spills. You don't want to evaporate too much water and make your space all damp. And you don't want to travel with the water full.
A safer option would be to beef up the insulation, like making the whole van into a good sleeping bag. If you can conserve your own heat, with enough ventilation for safety, you will be a lot safer than trying to run a fire in there with you. A good dog or some company helps too.
Thanks so much for the reply Erica, i have been living in a shelter logic tent all winter now experimenting with pocket rockets, its working well! I think i have a much better idea of what i can do with them now.
I have to second everything Erica said. My wife and I live in a 750 sqft cabin on the Washington coast. We re-insulated and sealed the place when we bought it, and even when it is 25F outside we seldom use any heat. Of course we also subscribe to Erica's last suggestion. We have two big Newfoundland dogs to help keep us warm!
Adding thermal mass to a motor vehicle seems very counter productive. Every pound you add further reduces your gas mileage. Weight and drag are your enemies. If you don't move much but stay parked, why not place the burner and thermal mass outside the van? Build an insulated box or tank to hold the thermal mass (dirt or preferably water), then pipe the heat into your van using circulating air or water. You could make the connection with insulated flexible hoses that could be disconnect periodically for travel. If you pull up stakes, dump the dirt or water and take the unit with you.