Finned Pot

Finned Pots as a Means of Increasing Efficiency Dale Andreatta, Ph.D., P.E.,, February 13, 2009

Finned PotFinned Pot

Executive Summary A pot with heat transfer fins has much greater surface area than pots with no fins. In theory, this could lead to greatly increased heat transfer to the pot for a given stove, and the pot would theoretically improve the performance of the stove under all conditions. While we often concentrate on the stove as the primary element of a cooking system, the efficiency of a stove is mainly determined by the heat transfer to the pot, and designing a better pot would be an easy way to make a more efficient stove. A variety of types of finned pots were built and tested. The best designs were separated out in the lab, using natural gas to simulate a wood flame. Several types of fins can be retrofit to existing pots. The better designs of finned pots performed well over a range of conditions using simulated stoves, and sometimes also with an actual wood burning stove modified to use natural gas to simulate a wood flame. With fins on or near the bottom of the pot the finned pots typically gave around a 1.76-fold improvement in heat transfer. If the fins were on the sides of the pot a greater than 2-fold improvement was achieved. Tests on actual stoves using wood as the fuel generally gave smaller improvements in performance, generally 1.33 or less, corresponding to a 25% or smaller reduction in fuel usage. These tests were done under a variety of conditions with a variety of stoves, including the open fire (3-stone fire). On industrial fuel stoves using kerosene or alcohol, improvements were even less, with the finned pots giving 1.2 fold improvements or smaller. In some tests the finned pot used more fuel than an unfinned pot. The reasons for this wide range of results is not known. It is not recommended that finned pots be pursued as a means of increasing the efficiency of stoves. Better results can probably be achieved with less effort by using skirts around the pot. These skirts could be attached to the pots with optimum dimensions. See attached report presented to ETHOS 2009

ETHOS 2009 Developing World Cooking Stove Conference
Charlie Sellers, February 11,2009

Charlie Sellers and GEKCharlie Sellers and GEK

This was my third ETHOS (Engineers in Technical and Humanitarian Opportunities of Service – a long name for people who often just call themselves “stovers”), and the Seattle suburbs are as cold as usual at this time of year. ~100 researchers came from around the world to compare notes on stove projects, stove designs, standards and testing procedures, health impacts, other associated appropriate technologies, and so on. More apparent this year was interest in carbon credit funding and biochar (terra preta) applications, and all year long there has been an increased emphasis on refugee camp stoves (and more testing of stoves in the field, versus in the laboratory) so this was more apparent at the conference.

Nat MulcahyNat Mulcahy

There was a raft of new stoves introduced this year, including the new BioLight thermoelectric-powered-fan one for camping and more, the likewise fan powered Lucia Stove from (shown with developer Nate Mulcahy),

Crispin Pemberton-PiggottCrispin Pemberton-Piggott

and the souped up Peko Pe natural draft gasifier presented by Paul Anderson (pictured with Crispin Pemberton-Pigott, wielding his ever present combustion analyzer).

Rocketeers Larry Winiarski and Dean StillRocketeers Larry Winiarski and Dean Still

The venerable Dr. Larry Winiarski and Dean Still are also shown here with the upcoming finned pot atop StoveTec’s ( rocket stove - now 36,000 strong in the field just since last year.

The trend toward stove models like all these, designed for mass manufacturing, continues, and this trend was recently discussed here: coming-of-corporate-biomass-stoves-mass.html). And yours truly demonstrated in light snow the new biomass gasifier (the red one) from All Power Labs here in Berkeley ( Look soon for Peter Scott’s new rocket stove design and application website at

Resources for the interested include past conference proceedings () and reviews

and the master site for all things related to biomass stoves is here:

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