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The Mulciber modernizes traditional wood-burning stoves to burn wood better

What happens when a Ph.D candidate turns his fire-prevention research on its head to demonstrate how to burn fires more efficiently? Taylor Myers came up with the Mulciber stove, which burns wood more efficiently by using up excess materials, resulting in reduced carbon emissions.

Mulciber Wood Stove 2More-efficient wood burning minimizes what is known as “black carbon” or soot. Myers discovered that reducing soot in a wood stove was the first step to a more efficient machine. The Mulciber adjusts the flow of air within the stove thanks to a computer-controlled fan system. With precise control over where air travels in the stove, the Mulciber can burn the wood within it more effectively to reduce smoke and soot. In addition, the stove draws air in from the exhaust pipe, so that no heat is wasted.

When all is said and done, the Mulciber releases just 0.2 grams of particle emissions per hour. That’s way below the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 4.5 gram limit and is less than half the smoke emitted from lighting up a single cigarette. That’s significant, because black carbon presents a problematic health risk in regions of the world where wood-burning stoves are a primary option for both cooking and heating.

Related: What to do with excess renewable energy? Just store it underground for later

Supporters of wood-burning stoves suggest that huge amounts of felled tree resources end up in landfills every year. To them, the Mulciber would be a great way to put those otherwise wasted resources to use without harming the environment. Critics argue that there are better ways to put recycled wood parts to good use without introducing more wood-burning stoves and their exhaust pipes to homes around the world.

The Mulciber hasn’t earned its EPA certification yet, but experts are already singing its praises as a highly efficient and environmentally friendly machine. As long as the wood resources burned in the Mulciber are harvested or collected in a responsible, sustainable way, Myers and the team behind Mulciber think it can help slow down the dangerous effects of climate change. Future versions of the stove could even use a thermoelectric generator to power the Mulciber’s electronic components like the computerized fan. Myers and his team started a company called MF Fire in order to commercialize the prototype, and they hope to bring it to market as early as summer 2016.