CBS Visits Our Lab!

A video crew of four folks from a CBS program called “Sunday Morning” visited the ARC lab Wednesday and spent seven hours interviewing the staff and recording our chickens and what we had to say, as well. The seven hours of video will become a two minute film that will be aired May 31. They even had Dean sing a song!

No shred of dignity left intact…? We’ll see.

The ARC staff showed the new cleaner stoves developed with Department of Energy funding. Adding chimneys to the stoves has made it possible to meet the World Health Organization indoor air guidelines. Wood burning stoves have an easy time meeting the health based Carbon monoxide (CO) standards but even with chimneys the new biomass stoves just squeak under the bar for PM 2.5. (The charcoal burning stove was the cleanest burning stove and met all of the ‘Tier 4’ standards!)

Making sure that the emissions completely exit the house is very important. The WHO guidelines assume that 25% of the gas and smoke leak into the room, and that only 75% goes up the chimney. As well as making the combustion efficiency as good as possible, (less than 7mg/minute) ARC has added an air tight chimney and an automatic damper that shunts all emissions up the chimney, when the pot is removed, to the stoves.

Field tests have repeatedly shown how the biomass stoves in use are not yet good enough to compete with switching to natural gas. At the same time, the consensus is that for the foreseeable future wood use will continue. Stove designers need to take full advantage of every health protecting technique to have biomass cooking stoves work alongside LPG in clean and safe household environments. ARC is experimenting in the lab and field to:

  • Increase the heat transfer efficiency. Using the least amount of wood to cook creates the least amount of CO and PM.
  • Make less than 7mg/min of PM 2.5.
  • Keep the chimney and stove airtight in use.
  • Eliminate fugitive emissions as the cook is using the stove.
  • Make sure that twice a year the stove is serviced and that replacement parts are available.

The health intervention is multidimensional and is more than just the stove. Even a regimen of pills requires a lot more than placing a bottle on a table.