Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Stove Camp: A New Perspective

Zac Rego reporting

Nick and Stella share their experience
with the InStove briquette press.

Immediately upon my arrival, I was thrown into the “fire” as I started a brief lecture on biomass briquette theory and history with the help of staff members Nick and Stella. The “students” were professionals with experience and knowledge far beyond my own, yet they listened attentively as I discussed the merits of mashing hay and shredded paper together into a burnable alternative to wood. After the discussion, I lit a few of these hay and paper briquettes in the 60 Liter Stove to demonstrate the reliability and quality of the stick briquette.
Before I started interning with InStove this summer, I didn’t even know there was a stove community. Yet, here they were, a diverse collection of enthusiasts and professionals gathered at the Institutional Stove Solutions Headquarters to learn about, test, and discuss all things stove.

Zac begins the briquette presentation.

As the briquette demonstrations began to wind down, I got a chance to talk with a few camp attendees about their experience so far at Stove Camp. One camper, Ron Larson, was sitting with some briquette material, but he wasn’t forming briquettes; he was making spheres. “I’ve always wanted to test my theory, but never had a good opportunity to do so. Now I have the opportunity.” Ron was discussing another stove design called the TLUD (Top-Lit Up-Draft). This is a stove loaded with fuel, lit from the top, and then allowed to burn with no need to manually maintain the fire. He was telling me that using spherical fuel rather than wood chips could create a better airflow within the stove, and now he has the opportunity to test his theory. In the laboratory, the TLUD stove was one of several designs I was able to see being tested.
Stove camp attendees use the briquette press.

The lab was buzzing with energy and excitement from builders and testers alike. There were some groups of people shaping chimneys and others running their stoves in test chambers. These chambers measured time to boil water, temperature, and different classes of emissions, including particulate matter. Inside the lab, I was able to see that these were people truly dedicated to constructing simple, quality, and efficient stoves.

I consider myself privileged to be able to intern at InStove, and even more so to share the day with people of such determination.

To hear what Zac, Nick, and Stella said during the presentation, please go to our Youtube channel

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


Guests enjoyed music, food, and great company!

Stella Strother-Blood Reporting

This past Saturday was exceptional at our “Spark-A-Change” community celebration! With incredible support from our host, Hideaway Bakery in Eugene, OR, this free event included food, drinks, live music, demonstrations and a raffle of prizes donated by our community business sponsors.

"This event was a chance to reach out to our community and spread the word about who we are while generating support for the work that we do locally and around the world," said Development Coordinator Adam Creighton.

Hideaway Bakery served free pizza, salad, refreshments and baked goods while guests also had the opportunity to munch down on “bodacious” corn from Thistledown farms, donated by volunteer Sherry Daggett. The corn was prepared in our 60 and 100 Liter Stoves, which were on demonstration throughout the event, showcasing how much food can be prepared using a minimum amount of firewood. King Estate Winery generously provided Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris, and Hop Valley Brewing Co. contributed a keg of Alphadelic IPA. Local musician Bill Slattery provided guitar accompaniment, reprising the wonderful performance he gave at our Open House in December.

The highlight for many attendees was the stove auction: guests had the opportunity to sponsor individual stove components (including the combustion chamber, pot, and paint), which, when put together, constituted a whole stove. This auction resulted in complete sponsorship of two complete stoves, which will be bound for Uganda in a shipping container later this summer.

Intern alum, Emily, volunteered at the raffle table
Spark-A-Change would not have been possible without the support of our volunteers, interns, and community. We thank them all for a great inaugural event.

“Knowing all the work and anticipation that went into this event: the teamwork was great,” said volunteer Sherry Daggett. “People stepped right up to the plate to help!”

If you are in the Lane County area, please thank our sponsors for their support. Our 2013 “Spark-a-change” sponsors were: Dot’s Trophy Shop, Big Stuff Barbecue, Kalapuya Books, Hop Valley Brewing Company, King Estate Winery, Coast Fork Feed, Hideaway Bakery, Rally Coffee, Cascade Home Center, Oldfield’s and the Backstage Bakery. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Summer Interns have Arrived

Stella Strother-Blood Reporting

A new team of interns has joined the InStove staff for the summer. These four students will work in teams of two on both fundraising and sustainable fuel research.

Evan hangs out by the entrance of InStove.
Kevin during a visit in London, England.
Evan Nelson and Kevin Rhodes will be working with Development Coordinator Adam Creighton. Their work will include grant research, drafting proposals, writing letters of inquiry, and helping InStove to develop and hone its message. Evan is a recent University of Oregon graduate with a double major in International Studies and Spanish. He has spent extensive time in Latin America including Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil. Evan enjoys cooking, scuba diving, and learning new languages.

“The reason I like InStove is because it helps on so many fronts. It impacts not only health, but also the environment and women’s rights,” said Evan.

Kevin is a dedicated swimmer and tutor. Like Evan, he also studied abroad in Spain. Kevin is currently pursuing a degree in International Business.

Ryan chills in his natural habitat.
Zac Rego and Ryan Walsh are working under executive assistant to formulate ratios of biomass (e.g., grass clippings, sawdust, leaves, paper) for use in our briquette-press. The team will research how decomposition and other factors affect the fuel-value of these briquettes when burned in our stoves.

Ryan is a recent UO graduate with a bachelor’s in environmental studies. His passions include woodwork, travel, and reading. Zac is a UO junior studying geology. He was inspired to pursue this major after taking a class called “Earth Resources and the Environment”  where he discovered that geology combines his passions for science and environmental awareness.

Zac makes some briquettes for a test!
“We’re testing ideas and everyone’s input is considered valuable,” said Zac. “The internship program is casual and flexible. I don’t feel like I am punching a clock; everyone is motivated, and we all want to see InStove grow to become more internationally relevant.”

You can view a short video of Zac making briquettes on our Facebook page!