We design efficient, durable, culturally appropriate cook stoves — that all can afford.
From fuel to food, a holistic approach to improved cookstove design
By holistic, we mean characterized by comprehension of the parts of something as intimately interconnected and explicable only by reference to the whole. In this case, we see the system extending from the fuel source all the way to the cook in the kitchen.
The fact is, it’s easy to make wood or charcoal burn, but we want it to be smoke-free, efficient, durable, fit the culture perfectly — and be affordable enough that some of the most impoverished people in the world can buy it.
How We Work
Our development process follows an iterative approach – going through multiple cycles of conceptual design, computer-aided design, prototype fabrication, user research, and laboratory & field testing. The results from testing and user research are then fed back into the process, so that the next iteration of conceptual design and computer-aided design is a substantial improvement over the previous one.
Fueled by experience (ours and our partners'), ideas (we are open to all), research (both our own and the work of others), and modeling (by number-crunching computers), this iterative cycle is a veritable wellspring of innovation.
Burn Design Lab grew out of a 2010 presentation by founder and cookstove visionary Peter Scott to an audience of 80 people on Vashon Island. The outpouring of community support and interest led Peter to form a locally based 501(c)3 nonprofit to advance his work and gather colleagues around him. Moved by the widespread deforestation happening in Africa, Peter’s vision was for an “army of engineers” to design the world’s best cookstoves.
One key participant in those early days was Bob Powell, who cut parts for prototypes at his metal shop Meadow Creature pro bono and provided workspace to the fledgling organization in Vashon’s Sheffield Building. The relationship between Meadow Creature and Burn Design Lab has been a constant throughout the organization’s lifetime: the close collaboration and physical proximity allow Burn to turn around new designs quickly, test them, and further improve the design based on the test results. Bob was a founding board member and remains active on the board as secretary-treasurer.
By 2012, a testing lab was built next to the shop, and Paul Means joined BDL as Research & Testing Manager. From 2013 to 2016, Burn Design Lab worked on the development of a natural draft wood stove—which would become the Kuniokoa—under a US Department of Energy contract with the University of Washington. Also in 2013, as part of the DOE project, the testing lab was expanded and a LEMS (Laboratory Emissions Monitoring System) was purchased.
In 2015, Peter Scott's energies were drawn to Burn Manufacturing Company, a for-profit business established to mass-produce the Jikokoa, a charcoal-burning stove. As Peter came to spend more time in Kenya at the new factory, Paul took over the day-to-day management of Burn Design Lab, and the board named him the president in 2016. Under Paul’s leadership, BDL has expanded its work to partnerships in Philippines, Guatemala, and now Ghana.
Paul is BDL’s Executive Director and President. Prior to this, Paul served as Research and Testing Manager for several years. Before joining BDL in 2012, he worked for Weyerhaeuser Company in a variety of positions, including R&D, Power Plant Manager, and Project and Process Engineering roles. Paul’s expertises include energy systems, power generation, wood drying, pelletization, and gasification technologies. Paul holds an MS in mechanical engineering and thoroughly enjoys cycling.
Arie Verloop, P.E.
Board of Directors
Arie joined BDL after a 36-year long career with an industrial combustion and boiler engineering firm. An MS degreed chemical engineer from The Netherlands, his expertise focused on process aspects of biomass and waste-fueled boiler combustion and operational performance, fuel economy, reliability, corrosion, and air emissions. Well known in various biomass and waste-fuel burning industries, at BDL Arie will help getting BDL’s name and mission out to larger audiences in order to raise awareness and funding.
Board of Directors
Lark has spent over twenty years working with non-profit public health, environmental and art organizations in various capacities including program development, fundraising, human resources and general counsel. Her work has also included environmental mediation and serving as a litigation attorney for environmental and public access cases. Lark currently has her own practice serving the private sector.
Board of Directors
Seth’s career spans over 25 years in writing, editing, publishing, teaching, and facilitation, applying his skills in the areas of clean energy, climate change, forestry, and ecological restoration. He joined the BDL board of directors after facilitating its strategic planning process pro bono in early 2016. Seth holds an MS in Energy and Resources from UC-Berkeley and an AB in Energy Studies from Stanford University. Seth serves as executive director of Northwest Natural Resource Group, a Seattle-based sustainable forestry nonprofit.
Board of Directors
Bob owns Meadow Creature LLC, a machine shop, that incubated BDL at its start. MC uses abrasive waterjet machining for rapid prototyping and short run manufacturing of art, architectural and mechanical components, as well as its own product line of agricultural tools. MC provides BDL a unique advantage in the stove world, enabling it to test and iterate stove designs within hours instead of weeks. Following MC's charter of giving back, its services are donated to BDL. Bob holds an EE degree from MIT and was an early Microsoft employee.
Board of Directors
Keith’s work with Burn Design Lab furthers a diverse career with a special interest in institutional and industrial projects. A licensed Architect with a 1955 degree in Architectural Engineering, he is retiring this year after 57 years in practice. His long-held interest in serving the public includes helping found the Vashon Community Council and serving on community boards. As an active Rotarian he has traveled to Ethiopia and Siberia, hosted and arranged international student exchanges.
Board of Directors
Meher Antia has a background in managing programs and strategic initiatives in biomedical research and translational science. She also has extensive experience in grantwriting and science communication. Meher spent several years at the Wellcome Trust, a global foundation based in London, where she had oversight of a broad portfolio of projects in medical engineering, drug discovery, structural biology and advanced microscopy. She holds undergraduate and master’s degrees in Physics and a PhD in bioengineering and is currently working on strategic initiatives in Population Health at the University of Washington in Seattle.
Joe Gilmour joined BDL in 2014, following the completion of his degree at the University of Washington. He studied Materials Science and Engineering, and that knowledge as proven to be very applicable to BDL’s many projects where material selection and durability are always a challenge. Joe routinely welcomes new interns and brings them up to speed with his solid understanding of the many facets of BDL. In his free time, Joe enjoys following local baseball and football teams, outdoor activities, working on cars, and spending time with friends and family. He is a native of Vashon Island, and has enjoyed working close to home for a company that strives to improve the lives and homes of many others around the world.
Human Resources and Accounting
Angela has lived on Vashon for 16 years and loves the change from her native Arizona, where she earned a B.S. in wildlife conservation biology from Arizona State University. She has worked as an IT administrative assistant, and most recently was a stay-at-home mom to her 8-year-old daughter. At BDL, she keeps the books, handles orders and shipping, runs the HR department, and makes sure the office plants stay alive.
Cookstove Testing Fellow
Anna joined BDL as a cookstove lab fellow in the summer of 2018, where she tests improved cookstove prototypes to characterize their performance. She received her M.S. in Environmental Engineering at the University of Colorado Boulder, with a focus in Engineering for Developing Communities. She first discovered her passion for international development when she joined Engineers Without Borders at CU, working on several clean drinking water projects in Nepal. Anna has also collaborated with the Ghana EPA to help characterize the outdoor air pollution in Ghana's capital city Accra and limit major sources of pollutants. She is excited to join the BDL team where she can use her past experience and education to create a meaningful impact in the world. In her free time, Anna enjoys exploring the Rocky Mountains and playing volleyball.
Materials Engineering Fellow
Gavin Ray joined the engineering team at Burn Design Lab in January of 2019. He; is finding ways to extend the Jikocoa cookstove’s life through the implementation of thermal barrier coatings. Gavin completed his B.S and M.S in Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Washington, where he was involved in the joint cookstove project between the Engineers Without Borders UW chapter and Burn Design Lab. He is excited to put his engineering knowledge to use in a field where his contributions can have a positive impact. Gavin practices Taekwondo in his free time. He is excited to explore Vashon Island.
Development and Research Fellow
Garrett Starr is a recent graduate of the University of San Francisco's Environmental Studies program. His past experience includes interning with an urban farm startup in New Zealand. He is pursuing his interests in writing and sustainability focused non-profit work by joining BDL as a research and development fellow. A fourth generation Vashon Islander, he is excited to help BDL become more integrated with the local community.