Bio-Lite CampStove

The Bio-Lite CampStove is a portable biomass fueled (see:Biomass_Energy) cooking device, intended primarily to burn wood or Wood_Pellets. It also allows the user to burn twigs, leaves, pine cones, or other biomass fuel in order to provide heat and electricity in remote or off-grid scenarios such as camping or during electrical utility outages. During Hurricane Sandy, Bio-Lite staff in New York City set up “charging stations” with several of the stoves in order to boil water for tea or coffee while people made use of the integrated USB outlet in order to charge cellular telephones and other electronic devices.

The stove consists of a burn chamber and power module, which fit together to form a joined unit. The power module includes a fan, which directs airflow into the burn chamber, dramatically increasing the efficiency of the combustion process while reducing soot and smoke. This fan is powered by an internal lithium-ion battery, which is recharged by way of a Thermo-Electric Generator (TEG) device. A thermal probe protrudes from the power module into the burn chamber, allowing electrical generation by way of the thermoelectric effect based on temperature differentials. The power unit has a USB port which can be used to charge any USB device with a charge requirement of 4 Watts or less (As of 2013 models). When the stove’s internal lithium-ion battery is fully charged, the USB outlet begins to ouput electricity to any device connected to it. If the device has a charge requirement of 2W or less (at USB 5 Volts), the stove will charge continuously while the fire is kept at maximum output. If the device requires between 2 Watts and 4 Watts at USB 5 Volts, the USB outlet will cycle on and off periodically, allowing a more gradual charge. If the device requires more than 4 Watts, the stove may be simply unable to charge it.

Once in full operation, the stove produces no smoke, with a mostly clean orange to blue flame depending on the fuel used. The soot and other emissions are greatly reduced by the stove’s design and the use of the fan to introduce extra oxygen to the combustion process. However because it is a solid fuel, there will still be some soot residue on pots or pans used for cooking. The electricity produced it limited, but it is suitable for use in remote areas or utility disruptions. Future iterations of the CampStove may offer increased electrical energy output, greatly increasing the device’s utility.

As of spring 2013, Bio-Lite has produced a portable grill for use with the CampStove, allowing the direct cooking of meat or vegetables over wood heat. The grill allows the user to fuel the stove while cooking, whereas use of a pot or pan on the stove forces the user to remove the pot, add fuel and then continue cooking. The grill is an additional component which must be purchased separately, and is designed to be lightweight and incompatible with pots or pans - only direct cooking of food atop the grill. The Bio-Lite portable grill is designed to channel heat from the stove such that there is a low, medium, and high-temperature zone for continuous cooking at varied temperatures in order to heat or warm without burning food.

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Categories: Energy | Camping

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