National Geographic – Wood Stove Decathlon Underdogs?
In 2013, we were just students at the University of Maryland. Our team of engineering students entered the Wood Stove Decathlon, a contest designed to spur innovation for the product. At that time, we were underdogs, representing the only University among several large companies. National Geographic profiled us anyway.
In the video, you can see us working on the first version of the Mulciber stove, now renamed the Catalyst. Our goals were to create something that is easy to use, costs less, and is more efficient than anything on the market currently. Our team was composed of excited students who were eager to put their education to use by creating a super efficient wood stove.
To build the stove, the team first studied the science of how fire works. By diving into the details, they uncovered an innovative way to start & maintain the flame, while also burning off the extra soot. Take it from Taylor: “In a typical wood stove, air flow is driven by combustion, so the fire is what moves the air through the stove itself. By forcing air, we are able to control exactly how much air gets into the stove at any given time. We bring cool outside air down around the outside of the stack, and then the exhaust gases flow up through the middle. As the outside air comes in, it’s warmed by the exhaust gases, and the exhaust gases are in turn cooled by the incoming air. That means a lot of heat which would normally leave your house instead goes back into the stove, which helps improve emissions and improve efficiency in general.”
As shown in the video, our super efficient wood stove even generates more electricity than it uses, and that excess is used to power the fan and other components of the digital stove.
Sounds like a team of more than just underdogs.
(Spoiler: we won the grand prize for efficiency with our super efficient wood stove!)