Clean, Sustainable Wood Burning


The Missoula Urban Demonstration Project celebrated earth day last Sunday. I got together with the Missoula Free Cycles folks and we found a way to do a bit more than most folks for earth day.

We loaded a portable rocket mass heater onto bicycles and bicycle trailers and hauled them to Caras Park, built the whole thing in a little over an hour and fired it up!

The purpose of this video is to give folks an idea of how clean the exhaust is while running a rocket mass heater.

When we first start it, there will be smoke. And there was smoke in the middle of the burn sometimes, but I think that most of that has to do with things that need more design improvements. For most of the time, the exhaust was a lot like what is shown in the video – there is fire, but no smoke. Marci Anderson gets her nose right in there.

Another important thing to note is that the temperature of the exhaust: see how we have a hot, clean fire burning and guido does not burn his hand when he puts it in the exhaust. It feels warm, but not hot. We measured it at about 90 degrees when the barrel was at about 850 degrees.

This was all filmed in Missoula, Montana.

This rocket mass heater is a prototype for some variations. A wood box shows a different aesthetic, a much taller heat riser design, using dry, loose fill (rocks and sand). This should be a lighter design than other rocket mass heaters – so it might be good for places that have a wood floor.

This might also be the fastest time a rocket mass heater was ever built: an hour and fifteen minutes.

Kelly Ware was there and also took some video footage:

In other news:

Helen Atthowe is now officially moved out of the Missoula area and is a big cheese at a massive organic farming operation in Colorado.

– my next presentation is on May 12th when I’ll be showing videos about Sepp Holzer. Missoula permaculture presentation schedule.

– tis the season to check out my lawn care article.

– I interviewed Maddy Harland of Permaculture Magazine for my podcast yesterday.

– I set up a mailing list contraption so that I can let people know about my daily-ish stuff
and my plots and schemes for world domination!


BIO: Paul Wheaton is is the tyrannical ruler of two on-line communities. One is about permaculture and one is about software engineering. There is even one for Missoula. Paul has written several permacutlure articles starting with one on lawn care that he presented at the MUD Project 17 years ago, including articles on raising chickenscast iron and diatomaceous earth. Paul also regularly uploads permaculture videos and permaculture podcasts. In his spare time, Paul has plans for world domination and is currently shopping for a hollowed out volcano in the Missoula area, with good submarine access.

See all of Paul’s contributions to MakeitMissoula on this Blog Homepage here