We design efficient, durable, culturally appropriate cook stoves — that all can afford.
A Local Solution for a Global Problem
According to the WHO, 3 billion people around the world cook their food and heat their homes with open fires and use solid biomass fuels. This system of cooking negatively affects the health, environments, and livelihoods of those in low- and middle- income countries without access to reliable and sustainable energy. By designing clean burning cookstoves from our lab in Vashon, WA that produce fewer emissions and require less fuel, we aim to save lives, reduce deforestation, and promote the economic empowerment of women in the developing world.
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
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
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.
Mikaela Alger, M.D.
Board of Directors
Dr. Mikaela Alger is a family practice physician working for the Puyallup Tribal Health Authority in Tacoma. She recently completed her residency at Swedish Hospital in Seattle. Mikaela has spent a summer in Nicaragua and a month in Malawi providing medical
support to local people. Mikaela also participated in a cookstove installation project in the northern highlands of Guatemala. She has a passion for the work and has seen both the living conditions and adverse health effects of open fire cooking.
Jonathan Posner, PhD
Board of Directors
Jonathan Posner is a Professor jointly in Mechanical Engineering and Chemical Engineering at the University of Washington. Jonathan earned his PhD in M.E. at University of California at Irvine. He did his post-doctoral research at Stanford University. Jonathan was the Primary Investigator for a $1,000,000 U.S. Dept. of Energy grant to develop an advanced natural draft biomass cookstove. Under this grant Jonathan lead a team from UW, Burn Design Lab, Burn Manufacturing Corp. (BMC) & Berkeley Air Monitoring Group to develop the Kuniokoa Cookstove, now under production at BMC. Jonathan leads the Posner Research Group.
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.
Laboratory Testing Fellow
Originally from Bellingham, WA, Brandy received her B.S. in Bioengineering from the University of Washington. At BDL, Brandy manages the lab and tests a variety of projects, including the Improved Shea Roaster and the Extended Life Stove. In her free time, Brandy enjoys playing music, basketball, hiking, and juggling!
Jeremy Su is the project manager for the Improved Shea Roaster project at Burn Design Lab. During his time here, he hopes to use his engineering knowledge to help improve the environment and the livelihoods of people in different communities. Outside of work, Jeremy is passionate about cooking and baking, health and fitness, service, wood-working, and hiking/backpacking/camping/climbing. While he is in the PNW, he looks forward to exploring the trails, lakes, and mountains in the state of Washington and becoming a part of the community on Vashon Island.
Mechanical Engineering Fellow
Louisa Anderson received her B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Rochester. Upon graduation Louisa was set to join the Peace Corps in Tanzania as a Math and Science teacher. Faced with a global pandemic Louisa instead returned to her family in Seattle, WA and began volunteering at BDL. In January she started as a Mechanical Engineering Fellow with the implementation of LPG in the Shea Project. Louisa has many interests including sustainability, problem-solving, and human-centered design.
Emilio Taltique is a Mechanical/Industrial Engineer at Burn Design Lab. He hopes to contribute to the field of clean cookstoves by working with the local population to improve the manufacturing processes in other countries. Emilio is passionate about using his engineering skills to help the environment and improve the quality of life for people in the margins of society. In his free time he enjoys the outdoors, comedy, and getting a coffee with a friend.
Mechanical Engineering Design Intern
Thando is a 3rd year student from Northeastern University (Boston, MA), studying Mechanical Engineering, with a minor in Human Services. Thando is most recently from Cincinnati, OH, and originally from Winneba, Ghana. In his free time, Thando has been exploring Vashon, attempting to create art, and listening to music. At BDL, Thando is involved in the shea roaster project, and is interested in creating more sustainable fuel sources, and working on the ergonomic drive.
Lou’s journey with Burn Design Lab (BDL) began in 2011 as a part-time volunteer, leading the cookstove design effort. In 2013 Lou became a full-time employee of Burn Manufacturing Company (BMC), as Chief Technical Officer. Lou played a crucial part designing and commissioning the production & maintenance operations of the BMC factory in Kenya. Lou led the stove design and production tooling work for 4 generations of the infamous Jikokoa stove. Lou retired from BMC last year and he now serves as a key volunteer for Burn Design Lab, providing mentor and guide to the engineering team at BDL.
Bryan received a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Computer Science from Iowa University and began his career as a programmer at Microsoft from 1984 to 2005. After retiring in 2005, Bryan took up metalworking as a hobby in support of a variety of personal and cookstove projects. Bryan provides invaluable machining, manufacturing and design support to our engineering team at BDL and has become an expert in metal cutting & forming as it pertains to cookstoves. Bryan actively supported the BMC team in designing the manufacturing methods for the Jikokoa.
Charlie has been active in development engineering for the last 12 years, following a successful career in new product development and manufacturing. He is an accomplished inventor, and now applies his energies to improving supply chains, products, and manufacturing in emerging markets. He is passionate about quality, and enthusiastic about the role of digital fabrication in bringing improved products to those who need them most. He has been engaged on projects for the Gates Foundation, the Peace Corps, the Shell Foundation, Engineers without Boarders, and other institutions dedicated to making a positive difference in the world (like Burn Design Lab). Charlie has been working with the ELS team at BDL to expand on the methodology for evaluating ceramics and refractories as candidates for combustion chamber materials. With these materials, determining the best manufacturing process, whether for test samples, prototypes, or for full scale product production, is equally as important as selecting the right material. Charlie has a PhD in Material Science and Engineering, and lives with his wife in Geneva, Switzerland.
Anthony joined in 2017, lending his mechanical design experience to the Mediana Plancha Stove Project. His passion for usability and human-centered design helped him when he traveled to Guatemala to meet some of Burn Design's partners and beneficiaries. Anthony continues to volunteer at Burn on a part-time basis, advising on computer drafting software and assisting in test fixture design.
Allan is providing Computational Fluid Dynamic modeling for BDL after performing this function for industry for over 30 years, prior to retiring. This is an important augmentation to BDL's cookstove development process. Allan has degrees in Forestry and Engineering and is interested in combustion, energy, and technology transfer. He is the author of over 30 publications and has been active in planning and organizing conferences globally. Allan lives in Kirkland and can often be found outdoors checking out the great Pacific Northwest.
Tom is volunteering with Burn Design Lab to develop custom software for emissions testing. For the past 15 years, Tom has worked as an engineer in the industrial and automotive emissions and performance testing industry, and currently works as an independent data acquisition / LabView consultant specializing in renewable energy and vehicle testing. Tom lives on Vashon with his wife and two kids.
Richard has begun investigation into cleaner & more efficient institutional cookstoves in Ghana, primarily for large, >60 litre applications, for places like schools, hospitals and prisons. He builds on a full career of technical excellence in high volume product development with companies like Hewlett-Packard and Apple. His international work began in the Peace Corps in the middle east and has continued in Europe and Asia with over 10 years of overseas experience.
Brad serves as the voluntary Chief Financial Officer at Burn Design Lab. Brad has spent 30 years in various accounting, auditing, financial and computer systems positions at Weyerhaeuser Company. In addition to volunteering, Brad enjoys cycling (motor).