Woodstock Soapstone Captures the Wood Stove Decathlon Grand Prize

BrianK

BrianK

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Nice article up on the Popular Mechanics website about the wood stove competition that was held on the National Mall in DC this past weekend:

Woodstock Soapstone Captures the Wood Stove Decathlon Grand Prize
The clean-burning stove competition on the National Mall concluded this week.
By David Agrell
woodstove-winner-1113-mdn.jpg
Woodstock Soapstone president Tom Morrissey

November 20, 2013 3:30 PM

WASHINGTON—There was no question that Woodstock Soapstone, an established manufacturer with more than 25 years of experience building catalytic stoves, took the Wood Stove Decathlon seriously. The company designed a stove from scratch specifically to win points in each of the decathlon's categories. The strategy paid off: Its Ideal Steel Hybrid ranked in the top three of four categories, including market appeal, affordability, carbon monoxide emissions, and particulate emissions. That was enough to collect the $25,000 grand prize at the decathlon's closing ceremony on Tuesday.

Wittus Twinfire and Travis Lopi Cape Cod shared the $10,000 second prize. The competition showcased 12 next-generation stoves. The goal was to design and build innovative units that were cleaner burning, more efficient, easier to operate, and more affordable than the typical smoke-belching boxes of old.

In independent and EPA-certified testing completed prior to the Wood Stove Decathlon, the Ideal Steel Hybrid achieved up to 82 percent efficiency while delivering as little as 0.54 g/hr of particulate emissions. (The Wood Stove Decathlon does not plan to make its own test data public for concerns it would confuse customers attempting to compare it to EPA and other data.)

Although the winning stove employed tried-and-true technology, such as a dual-combustion system and a catalyst, there was still room for innovation—most notably in the philosophy behind its design and the measures taken for it to be successful. Woodstock Soapstone president Tom Morrissey explains that he wanted to build a stove that would perform near the highest level while also eventually retailing below $2000. Similar stoves on the market can cost twice that.

"It's a complicated stove that we needed to simplify down to its main components," says Morrissey. "We used a spreadsheet that tracked the number of linear inches that needed to be cut, and how many hits on the crest needed to bend it, how many inches of welding, and where it was cheaper to bend it or weld it. That part was not easy."

Morrissey admits that some planned features were omitted because they drove the cost up. For example, the stove uses a thermoelectric generator (TEG) to power an optional light. At one point, however, they'd considered using the TEG to pressurize the air system.

"It worked incredibly well, but we had to make choices. Do we want to include the TEG, the wiring, the fan, and the blade in the bill of materials if we can do it without all that?" Morrissey says. "We asked ourselves: Are we trying to wow the judges or are we making something that's really simple? We went with simple, and it worked very well."

The stove also turned heads with its unusual customizable cooktops, sides, and andirons, which were fabricated from plate steel using high-pressure water-jet cutters. At one point during the competition, the stove sported moose antlers. On another occasion it resembled a giant fish.

"The stove performs well—that was always a given and it had to do that—but could we hit a price target that we thought was affordable, and could we offer something that was truly different?" Morrissey says, "I think we did it."

Morrissey hopes to bring the Ideal Steel Hybrid to market by the summer. The stove is already moving through the EPA approvals process, and the company will continue beta testing for a couple of months to see if it can further reduce costs or improve performance.

In an unexpected gesture of goodwill, Morrissey says his company will share the cash prize with two of competition's unsponsored, noncorporate finalists: Jason Stewart, who brought his affordable stove retrofit (IntensiFire) all the way from New Zealand, and Matt Remine, who drove in from Washington State with his masonry/rocket-stove hybrid (Walker Stove) in the back of his Subaru. Travis donated its $5000 prize to the competition's organizer, the Alliance for Green Heat.

Wood Stove Decathlon 2013 final rankings (top 3 given):

OVERALL
1) Woodstock Soapstone
2) Travis
2) Wittus

INNOVATION
1) HWAM
2) Wittus
3) IntensiFire

MARKET APPEAL
1) Travis
2) Wittus
3) Woodstock Soapstone

AFFORDABILITY
1) Woodstock Soapstone
2) Walker Stoves
2) IntensiFire

EFFICIENCY
1) Wittus
2) Tulikivi
3) Ofenbau & Feuerstellen

CARBON MONOXIDE EMISSIONS
1) Travis
2) Woodstock Soapstone
3) Tulikivi

PARTICULATE MATTER EMISSIONS
1) Mulciber
2) Intercontinental
3) Woodstock Soapstone
 
BrianK

BrianK

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We are going to be burning a Beta version of this new Woodstock Ideal Steel stove this winter. Woodstock brought our Beta unit along with them to DC this past weekend. We met up with them at the Wood Stove Decathlon on Saturday and brought the Beta unit home with us. We are waiting on an 8" to 6" reducer collar for the flue so we have not had a test fire yet.

Here's a quick video explanation I put together this weekend of the new stove features (please ignore the background noise and chatter, we had a bunch of homeschooling friends there helping us move out my Woodstock Fireview and move in the Ideal Steel stove):

Our Beta version of the new Ideal Steel stove has Fleur de lis cut outs over the soapstone inserts in the leg covers. Here's a quick video of removing the leg covers and the structural legs behind the covers:

Stove top is 28" wide, 23 1/2" deep and on the highest leg setting is 35 1/2" tall. On this Beta unit there is about 4" of adjustment on the legs so minimum height would be ~31" on this particular unit. Firebox measures 22" wide, 18" deep, 11" tall at rear of secondary air plate, 15" tall at front of secondary air plate (3.2 cu ft.)
 

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BrianK

BrianK

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Joined
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Messages
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Woodstock makes awesome stoves!!I have a fire view!!
Yeah, we loved our Fireview but it was a little too small for our drafty old house. I finally got the Supervent DSP double wall stove pipe cut down to fit and assembled tonight to the Class A but still have to secure everything. We'll be burning for the first time in this new stove tomorrow, just in time for our first temps down into the teens this weekend.
 

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RedShift42

RedShift42

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The March '14 PopMech has an interesting page on [their] most notable stoves from the Alliance for Green Heat's Wood Stove Decathalon. Page 24, but not on PM's website tho'.
Congrats to Woodstock on their win.
Most intriguing to me is a clean-sheet catalyst design that uses a pressurized combustion chamber, producing "almost unmeasurable" emissions.

Also worth mentioning is the Why Biomass Beats Solar article on p.66 (also not on their site yet)-- a good examination on the lopsided effeciency/economics/tax crediting of a modern woodstove vs. home photovoltaic systems.
 

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