Testing the Oorja Stove under the LEMS hood.

There are many forced draft TLUDs that are quite similar to Dr. Tom Reed’s 2001 version, the WoodGas stove. The Oorja stove can be about as clean burning but has several obvious differences: a high mass refractory ceramic combustion chamber, much bigger secondary air holes, and high firepower. Like other forced draft TLUDs the turn down ratio, created by limiting the combustion air, is narrow. The Mimi-Moto had to turn to a smaller combustion chamber for simmering to achieve Tier 4 for low power metrics. It’s a problem for Forced Draft TLUDS.

I have been a fan of the Oorja stove since 1999. In 2003, when I was living in India, hundreds of thousands of British Petroleum Oorja stoves were in use, burning pellets made from field residue. It’s been fascinating recently to read Dr. H. S. Mukunda’s 2010 paper describing the development of the Oorja.* When his team tested the lifespan of a metal combustion chamber it was only about 12 months and cast iron was expected to last about twice as long. The team developed a ceramic combustion chamber to create a better, longer lasting stove. I’m testing an Oorja stove with ceramic combustion chamber that is 20 years old!

Mr. Prasad Kokil from the San Jay Group writes: “We had developed this Oorja stove for BP in our company. We developed the ceramic refractory for the Oorja at that time. Our Elegant Model (now for sale) has a ceramic refractory combustion and is a forced draft TLUD”.

Large secondary air holes near the top of the combustion chamber.

Dr. Mukunda and team decided that at a burn rate of 12 grams per minute the primary air should be 18 g/min, and the secondary air was set at 54 g/min. The 18 secondary air holes, just below the top of the combustion chamber, are larger than in other FD-TLUDs at 6.5 mm in diameter creating a velocity of 1.8 meters per second. Using larger holes means that a low wattage computer fan supplies air jets with sufficient volume and velocity. Emission measurements made by the development team, carried out at fuel consumption rates of 12 and 9 g/min, showed that the CO emissions were 1 and 1.3 g/MJ whereas particulate emissions were 10 and 6 mg/MJ for the high and low power levels. When burning the made charcoal, CO rose but did not exceed the Indian standards.  

The Oorja stove has been tested at various times in our lab with impressive results. Learning from Dr. Mukunda and team how to make stoves that are super clean burning and last a really long time is an important development. Thanks for such a great stove!

* Gasifier stoves: Science, technology and field outreach H. S. Mukunda, et al., CURRENT SCIENCE, VOL. 98, NO. 5, 10 MARCH 2010 

Paul Anderson TCHAR stove

In 2011, Dr. Paul Anderson described how the made charcoal in a TLUD could drop into a charcoal stove base and then be used to cook food. The top of the TLUD stove was removed after the charcoal was made and the pot was placed on the lower base to continue cooking. ARC used the same idea in a TLUD stove that was tested by Jim Jetter, but the wood burning and subsequent charcoal burning happened in the same combustion chamber. The TLUD was shorter, so the lower firepower in the charcoal supplied enough energy to a covered pot with a tight skirt to keep simmering. The ARC TCHAR stove was clean burning and scored well in a series of tests. (Jetter, et al., 2012, Environmental Science & Technology 46(19):10827-34).

Dr. Anderson’s 2011 TCHAR stove. The top (silver) portion is removed after the fuel has become charcoal, and the pot is placed directly on the base for simmering.

Using the made charcoal to simmer food to completion increases thermal efficiency. In cities where biochar may be less desirable, a known amount of fuel can bring the food to boil (burning the wood) and then gently simmer the food until it’s done (burning the made charcoal) without much tending. To preserve the biochar for agricultural use the primary air that goes up into the batch of fuel is limited and the fire is extinguished. In a TCHAR more primary air helps to decrease the smoke made during the transition from wood to charcoal burning and helps the charcoal to completely combust.

The Turn Down Ratio in a 2021 ARC TCHAR is about 5 to 1, so the pot needs a lid and a tight skirt to keep boiling. Using 700 grams of biomass pellets the stove boiled five liters of water in 27 minutes and kept boiling for two hours (covered pot/tight skirt). The TCHAR is another TLUD variation and, who knows, may be useful somewhere?

Burning wood and then made charcoal results in a large turn down ratio.
sticks and charcoal start to combust in a rocket stove

The Jet-Flame was developed from combustion concepts used in fluidized beds and TLUDs.

Fluidized Bed

fluidized bed combustion diagrams

“In its most basic form, fuel particles are suspended in a hot, bubbling fluidity bed of ash and other particulate materials (sand, limestone etc.) through which (under air) jets of air are blown to provide the oxygen required for combustion or gasification. The resultant fast and intimate mixing of gas and solids promotes rapid heat transfer and chemical reactions within the bed.”   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fluidized_bed_combustion

Top Lit Up Draft

diagram explaining how a top loaded up draft stove works

The TLUD uses under air flowing up through the fuel to transport wood gas into the hot layer of charcoal and flame above the fuel assisting more complete combustion efficiency.

Cleanly Starting the Jet-Flame

High velocity under air jets blow up into the lit charcoal placed on top of small sticks of wood. When the charcoal and wood are on fire, long pieces of wood are pushed into the made charcoal to start a Rocket Jet-Flame without making visible smoke. The sticks of wood are burned at the same rate as the continual production of charcoal creating a cleaner combustion process related to a fluidized bed and the TLUD.

sticks and charcoal start to combust in a rocket stove

Charcoal over wood is lit.

bed of charcoal in rocket stove

The charcoal becomes superheated with jets blowing up into the pile.

sticks burning in rocket stove

After 30 seconds, long sticks of wood are pushed against the burning charcoal creating flame.

Chart showing how more air exchanges reduces indoor air pollution from cooking
Chart describing the influence of air exchange per hour rates on the concentration of PM2.5 in a 30 cubic meter room. Higher air exchanges equal lower PM2.5 concentrations.
Using the ISO box model, Sam Bentson has calculated how increased ventilation helps a classic Rocket stove (around 30 mg/minute of PM2.5) and a modern TLUD burning pellets (about 5mg/minute PM2.5) to protect health.

In the lab, we are used to thinking of the ISO Tiers as static, based on how much pollution enters a 30 cubic foot kitchen during four hours of cooking with 15 air exchanges per hour. However, in 2018 ISO published 19867-3 that further explains how, for example, increasing the air exchange rate (ACH) changes the Tier rating. Generally, doubling the air exchange rate cuts pollution (PM2.5 and CO) in half.

In a low ventilation situation (10 ACH), Tier 4 requires that the emissions of CO are lower than 2.2 grams per megajoule delivered to the pot (g/MJd). But in a higher ventilation condition (30 ACH) the stove can be three times dirtier, emitting up to 7 g/MJd, and still be in Tier 4. Cooking outside is often employed by the cooks we work with because smoke is bothersome and unhealthy.

ISO 19867-3 reports that studies of air exchange rates have found a lot of variation in ventilation, from 4 ACH in very tight buildings to 100 ACH outside in the fresh air. When I lived on a ranch in Mexico, most of the cooking took place outside under a veranda (which also made it easier to smell the wonderful homemade coffee brewing in the early mornings). When Sam Bentson carefully measured the ventilation rate under our veranda in Oregon he also found that when a gentle breeze was blowing (2 MPH) the air exchange rate per hour was around 100.

At 100 ACH, with so much dilution occurring outside, achieving Tier 4 for PM2.5 and CO is easier. In our experience, the most successful and cost effective interventions are situation dependent. We find that a combination of approaches to protecting health enables a welcome adaptability to the actual and interwoven circumstances.