CORE Bio-Reactor: Wood Gas Camping & Backpacking Stove
Ultralight woodgas camping stove that can convert into a Rocket Stove, Top Lit Updraft (TLUD) Stove and stores completely flat.
The days are getting longer and the weather warmer and like many of you I can't wait for summer to finally get here so I can go camping, pick huckleberries and sleep out in the fresh air with the crickets. But until then I've got a lot of work to do because I've got to tell you about this new stove I've designed and get them made and out to you before its too late for summer!
A few years ago I was out camping a the lake with my family. The kids were small and we had taken a walk up a 4 mile trail from our lakeside campground to another alpine lake. The weather was nice when we started but as we approached the lake, a wild storm blew in and branches and huge trees started falling all around us. We were trapped, miles away from camp, with only the contents of my small day pack. When things calmed down the sun came out like nothing had happened; but to get back to camp we had to crawl through piles of huge trees that had fallen across the trail for miles and didn't make it back until just after dark.
That experience really made us think, just in case we got unexpectedly stuck somewhere, everyone should have a little survival pack, even the kids.
After that trip we got the kids their own little day packs and filled them with good stuff but the kids were small and everything had to be necessary, functional, light and efficient. Later that year while out on another adventure we made some small wood gas stoves with our left over bean cans and they worked pretty good but there was no way the kids could stow those big dirty things in their eating cup or even outside their cup in their small packs and for them, trying to break a pile of short sticks the thickness of your thumb for fuel was as hard as bending steel.
Sitting by the lake with toes in the water, I got to thinking that there's got to be a way to make an efficient, affordable, wood gas stove that's small enough to fit into their packs yet ultralight enough for them to carry. It would have to be simple to fuel so they could easily heat a cup of water for the freeze dried food in their pack. That's when the idea of a folding double walled sheet metal stove came to me.
A minute later I figured out how it should fit together. I couldn't wait to get started so I cut up the soda boxes at camp and started making mockups. By the time I got to the orange soda box it was starting to look pretty good.
Back at home I created many different designs, drafting and cutting them out in card stock and started refining the design. Eventually I got to a point that I needed to test the designs so I found a small shop that could cut a couple prototypes and from that process came:
THE CORE BIO-REACTOR
The Core Bio-Reactor is a double walled, wood burning, wood gas stove that was designed for backpacking, camping or emergency use and doubles as bio-char maker for your houseplants and garden. It can be configured in many modes including three sided ultralight mode at only 8.5 oz, to four sided mode, Rocket mode, Top Lit Updraft (TLUD) wood gas mode or anything in between. Much more efficient for outdoor cooking than an open campfire, the Core reactor will focus the energy from just a handful of twigs into your pot or pan to boil water or cook an entire meal even in bad weather and when you're done, it disassembles to become completely flat.
HOW IT WORKS
The Core Bio-Reactor is double walled with outer walls and optional inner walls called Afterburners. The Afterburners act as insulators to keep the heat inside of the reactors core and focused on your pot or pan. They also use the fire to superheat oxygen rich air drawn in from its lower intake ports and direct it into the stoves exhaust. The superheated air expands and rises between the stove walls exiting under slight pressure into the burn chamber near the top edge of the stove creating a barrier of oxygen rich superheated air which instantly ignites unburned particulates in any smoke that tries to pass through it! This means less tar on your pots and pans and virtually no smoke escapes the stove while its in use. It functions similarly to other popular wood gas 'can' type stoves but the main difference is that the Core design has all kinds of performance options and it stows completely flat!
The Core is packed with lots of great features. It can be converted from ultralight 3 sided mode at only 8.5 oz, to ultralight 4 sided mode at 13 oz, to full on Rocket mode or to TLUD mode where when filled with wood or wood pellets it will burn like a torch with little or no smoke and no stoke for almost an hour. It can meet the needs of nearly every adventure, from ultralight solo hiking to mom cooking breakfast for the kiddies and crew on the campground picnic table. It has a stable wide stance, and excellent protection for the fire from wind and rain when your pot is on it. It'll store in a tiny camper drawer or almost anywhere in your pack including down low against your back where you almost don't even know its there until you need it.
The Core design can eat big sticks for a consistently hot fire and if you're in the woods, you don't have to haul any fuel, its all around you. Its fuel port plate is solid at the top to keep your pot handles cool and so that it can be faced into the wind to prevent its flames from being blown out from under your pot. Slots around the fuel port allow the installation of a door or rocket port and the holes in its feet allow it to be staked to the ground. With its bottom heat shield installed, it can sit on a table or on the ground without causing heat damage and it'll even sit on top of the snow. Its lower side draft ports are designed to hold aluminum damper strips for simmering and burn rate control.
Every part has a triangular hole in it so that it can be organized on a carabiner or clipped to your pack and its storage bag is made from rugged waterproof coated nylon pack cloth with full width velcro closure to both keep soot away from your stuff and so that it can be used as a micro wash or rinse station.
TOUGH AND DEPENDABLE
The Core design is tough and dependable. It's made in the U.S.A. from almost indestructible Stainless Steel or Titanium. If it accidentally gets stepped on, crushed, or if a bear chews it, unlike a 'can' type stove, you can just smash the parts flat again, re-assemble and use. Best of all, this is a makers stove. You can hack it, bend it, chop it, drill it, design new features/options for it and if you screw it up or lose a piece, all the individual pieces will be available online at affordable prices so you can replace only the part you whatever'ed.
The Core design can be configured in variety of modes but there are two basic versions designated by the number of sides in use.
The Core 3 has three sides, one side with a modified mouth fuel port and two without. It can take up to three Afterburner plates and it has a triangle shaped burn plate, an optional heat shield plate that installs into the slots in the feet and an optional TLUD restrictor plate. The Core 3 will support even the smallest cup or cook pot, without any extra parts. It's great for the solo hiker/backpacker because even though it looks small, its got holes in its burn plate so drafts really well and really can pump out a lot of heat. It's very fuel efficient and in ultralight mode, with just three sides and a burn plate, it only weighs 8.5 oz!
Just add a side and a square burn plate and you've got a Core 4 as all parts are interchangeable. Both the wide mouth and modified mouth fuel port plate can be used. Adding the rocket port nearly doubles its draft length and works with it impressively.
The Core 4 has four sides, one side with a fuel port and 3 without. It can take up to 4 Afterburner plates and has a square burn plate with no holes because it works great without any. It's burn chamber is nearly 150 cubic inches so generating enough heat to cook a group sized meal is no problem. It also accepts a square heat shield plate in case you don't want to scorch the ground or picnic table or to set it on top of the snow. The heat shield also works great as a burner, set on top of the stove, it'll protect your pot from soot yet transfer all the heat to your pot!
ROCKET STOVE MODE
The first unique conversion mode is Rocket Mode. By attaching a Rocket Port to the fuel port the reactors draft length almost doubles, increasing its performance. All excess heat that might normally escape through the fuel port is sucked into the burn chamber where the Afterburners take over and flames can shoot out two and three feet high.
The rocket port really adds a fair amount of horsepower to the reactor and makes it easier to manage its fuel.
TOP LIT UPDRAFT (TLUD) MODE
The second impressive conversion mode is Top Lit Updraft (TLUD) mode. Basically Afterburner plates are installed on all sides and a Top Lit Updraft (TLUD) restrictor plate is installed at the top. The fuel chamber is filled with fuel such as wood or wood pellets and lit from the top. After the reactors core heats up, the Afterburners and restrictor plate take over trapping intense heat inside the core of the reactor literally cooking the wood and then thoroughly mixing superheated air with its exhaust burning every bit of smoke. When the Core is in TLUD mode, you'll get a clean, smokeless, superheated burn, less tar on your pot, and with about 3 cups of wood pellets, it will burn, untouched, like a blazing torch for almost an hour. It normally burns so hot that everything is incinerated into a tiny bit of dust like ash.
BIOCHAR REACTOR MODE
Biochar is composed largely of carbon made from wood and recycled agricultural products. When mixed into garden soil, biochar works much like compost, promoting fertility by retaining minerals that help plants flourish. The carbon in compost lasts for only a few years, but biochar’s carbon remains in the soil for centuries, continuing to provide those beneficial nutrients to plants. By using biochar, regular composting and adding fertilizers is no longer a necessity. (and tomatoes love this stuff)
To configure the Core as a Biochar Reactor, set it up in the same configuration as TLUD mode except the idea is to only give the fire just enough oxygen to keep it going so it just bakes the fuel but does not completely burn it. To control amount of oxygen the fire gets, close off most of the air from entering the lower air intake ports by sliding a strip of aluminum or foil into the port supports.
Then fill the fuel chamber with wood pellets or sticks and start a fire on the top of the stove. It will burn down a bit and then start cooking the wood instead of burning it. Eventually the flame will go out and all the wood in the fuel chamber will be cooked completely through into a black charcoal. Just extinguish any hot spots with a little water so it doesn't smoulder and the bio-char is ready to use.
To use the biochar, just integrate it into the soil around your flowers and vegetables and watch them take off!
Here's a short video demonstrating how quick and easy it is to assemble.
WITH YOUR SUPPORT
The Core is an impressive little reactor that has really exceeded my expectations but I need some help getting it kick-started.
I've worked with a smaller local shop to have the prototypes made as well as a micro production run. We've worked out all the bugs and the design is ready for production. I've also lined up a larger local manufacturer that can produce the metal parts at even lower costs depending on the funding level, but to get their attention they require a decent sized order.
The sewing company that made the prototype stove bags utilizes a cottage industry approach. The bag material is cut and silk screened and actually sewn by a fleet of nice ladies (and maybe guys too) mostly working at home. They're a very capable company that has worked successfully with other recent kickstarter projects and they are ready to go!
So all that's needed to get some produced for you and all the other happy campers everywhere before its too late for summer... and get us on our way into a regular production cycle... is a single decent sized order.
With your help we can make that happen.
Manufacturing and Fulfillment
By funding the Core project you will be pre-ordering a Core reactor and or a stove bag, or both, almost at cost (including shipping) and kickstarting our first production run. The funds raised through Kickstarter will help us purchase the materials and allow the project to meet both the manufacturing minimums and setup costs required for a production run.
Depending on the funding level achieved either the smaller company that I've been working with will produce the metal parts, and I will be hand electro-marking the parts or if lots of you like it and decide to support the project, the larger company that has the million dollar ultra high speed laser will be manufacturing the metal parts.
The stove bags will still be sewn at the same company by all the nice people working from home, just lots more of them.
I've been assured by the material distributor that they have a large quantity of stainless steel product in stock and can quickly provide as much material as necessary. Depending on the popularity of the titanium models, they have stock on hand and can get as much as necessary in 3 days or less.
The timeline for product delivery is conservatively targeted for mid August, hopefully earlier.
I've also got some stretch goals planned along the way to make things interesting.
To start, a stretch goal of $20,000 will get us in with the larger manufacturer which will decrease the per part cost and put us on the best path. If we hit this participation level I will design an ultralight custom esbit tablet system for the Core that will hold an esbit tablet at an optimized distance below the pot... and include one in each pack :)
So if you're stoked about getting a Core reactor for hiking, camping, emergencies, your garden, your bug out bag, your scouts, your weenie roast or whatever; please help kick start it by selecting a reward and lets light this thing off!
Thank *You* for your support!
$20,000 Stretch Goal Reward - Achieved
Custom Esbit Tablet Module included in every reward level pack!
Details coming soon!
$30,000 Stretch Goal Reward
Custom 6x6 Grill Plate Module - Grill a killer design into your food!
Stainless Steel - Add $4.00 to your pledge
Titanium - Add $9.00 to your pledge
Note: To add the amount to your pledge, click on 'Manage my Pledge' up in the right hand corner. Then just edit the value in the 'Pledge Amount' without adjusting the 'Pledge level' below that.
$40,000 Stretch Goal Reward
Custom 6x6 Grill Plate Module - cut from the same material as your CORE - INCLUDED FREE!
Risks and challenges
There aren't very many risks that I can foresee interfering with the manufacturing or delivery of the product. There are multiple experienced companies ready to produce the product that have assured me that they will eat the cost of any parts they produce that don't meet quality control guidelines. The production process is pretty straightforward and the construction materials and tools are readily available. However... there is a risk that I might get a little tired of hand stamping the electro-etched logo on each and every front plate :) but I'm pretty sure I can work through that if the project is funded.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)