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response to New Scientist article citing wood stoves as pollution culprit?  RSS feed

 
pollinator
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https://www.newscientist.com/article/2119595-wood-burners-london-air-pollution-is-just-tip-of-the-iceberg/

I wrote a letter to the editor, but I'm not an expert on RMH's. 

Anyone else want to write a response?  Erica? Paul? what would it take to have these available as easily as wood stoves?
 
pollinator
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I have to admit that I didn't read the article but many cities have restrictions on butning coal (which is right) or wood. Of course there are no limits on how much you drive.
It is very important for them that you are depenent on the system no matter what.
 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
pollinator
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True, but New Scientist is a pretty good resource for lucid discussion.  It's not totally unbiased, but if someone brings a clear argument forward it's likely to get considered.
 
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I would have to concede  to them, that wood stoves and outdoor wood boilers of the standard variety, even the ones called "high efficiency", ARE a high pollution, resource intensive way to heat.

Heating better, on 1/4 to 1/10th the wood, with more complete, lower particulate and CO emissions exhaust makes the rocket mass heater a different beast than any conventional wood heating appliance, which is what their article refers to.

  Few devices create such complete combustion of wood, and fewer still, retain as much of that heat for it's intended purpose.
 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
pollinator
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Matthew Goheen wrote:I would have to concede  to them, that wood stoves and outdoor wood boilers of the standard variety, even the ones called "high efficiency", ARE a high pollution, resource intensive way to heat.

Heating better, on 1/4 to 1/10th the wood, with more complete, lower particulate and CO emissions exhaust makes the rocket mass heater a different beast than any conventional wood heating appliance, which is what their article refers to.

  Few devices create such complete combustion of wood, and fewer still, retain as much of that heat for it's intended purpose.



Great, can you write that to New Scientist and include some documentation/study? 
 
Matthew Goheen
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I'm not sure that I support classifying rocket mass heaters in the same category as wood stoves, which are limited to being smoke belching examples of inefficiency by the very regulations they are designed for and tested under.

  rocket mass heaters haven't been "scientifically tested" in UL listing laboratories or any other because:

A) it is nigh impossible to ship a 3 ton cob mass to a UL listing laboratory, or any other

B) there is little to no commercial market in selling people a wood heating device that they can build themselves from mostly scrounged materials

C) most of the people who are building the best performing devices do not have the money to get them tested, so the "hard data and evidence" is what people would call "anectdotal"

D) HUGE numbers of people are building things they are calling rocket mass heaters, whose designs have missed out on the most important time/temperature/turbulence requirements in one way or another, and thus perform way below what the "state of the art" can actually produce.

  Wood stoves ARE a significant pollution culprit.  rocket mass heaters are nor, but only if well designed and implemented.

  Only one of them is something you can buy ready to use, and install in your home without voiding your homeowners insurance, in almost any part of the country.
 
Matthew Goheen
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I created an account there so I could read the article... It actually seemed rather balanced to me.

  As did the suggestion that a tax be applied based on the pollution output of the device being operated.

  No place to comment, and I'm really not sure what a letter to the editors would accomplish.

  RMH's are not a one size fits all commercial solution that they can recommend to their readers.

  It's more something people have to choose to implement and build for themselves.
 
pollinator
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In my locale, smoke from woodstoves is a non-issue compared to people making huge brush and trash fires and setting them alight any time it rains.

 
gardener
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The particulate output of a RMH, even if comparable to a standard woodstove, also has to be tempered by the fact that the RMH is only burning for 1/6 to 1/12 the time that a woodstove would be burning to keep the same space heated. So it wins even if it is not inherently less polluting while burning... multiplied by the actual efficiency gain and pollution reduction of a properly-built RMH.
 
pollinator
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Not to change the subject at all, but I had this same issue with a alternative energy representative yesterday. As a small, full-time farmer I am eligible for some alternative energy grants, but am no leach on society. I would like to do some small projects that reduce my costs as a farmer. A case in point is using geothermal heat to eliminate the need to keep my stock tanks free of ice. I will soon have 10 of them, and with electric stock tank heaters consuming 1500 watts that is a LOT of electricity...and over $3200 in electrical consumption.

But the grant I was looking at has a stipulation; it has to be an off-the-shelf commercial product, so in other words they will gladly pay for a $80,000 wind turbine that uses up most of the available grant money to one farm, but not a $4500 project that could help multiple farmers instead. It is just down right stupid.

The same logic applies to rocket mass heaters, I can get a rebate from Efficiency Maine for a very inefficient woodstove, but a rocket mass heater would not qualify.

Woodstoves are a huge pollution culprit. Come to my neighborhood on a damp, cold day when there is a low pressure system abounding and you can barely see through the smoke clod from all the woodstoves in use. A look at the numbers also is an indicator, and even then it is not accurate. The problem is "seasoned wood" is not dry wood. Right now my stove is consuming firewood from my grandmothers house cut some 20 years ago or more.  Even with the dampers completely shut, the wood is just being burned too fast...it is so dry. That is why people like seasoned wood, dry enough to burn...but not too fast, which skews the reported appliance numbers given in brochures.
 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
pollinator
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Sounds like a good candidate for a crowdfunding campaign--raising $4500 is not so much, and then it can be repaid by the savings from your electricity costs with a reasonable amount of interest.  People who contributed would be helping a farmer do things more sustainably and have more resource available for farming--a win-win.

The issue of RMH's is something that oculd be argued successfully in New Scientist--maybe a grantmaker can't change course without a lot of oversight and politics, but if the idea can be articulated clearly to the scientific reader, there are a LOT of engineers who would get interested in the idea and run with it, and eventually potentially lobby for policy changes.  They may not be permies but they think in a similar way.  So please, if you know more about RMH's than I do (which you probably do) write to New Scientist and clarify the issues!
  thanks!
 
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