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 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
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.
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.
Eric Duah Boateng
Materials Science and Chemistry Intern
Eric grew up in Kumasi, Ghana. He first received his undergraduate degree in chemistry at KNUST in Kumasi, and then moved to Italy for his masters in chemistry and chemical methodologies at the University of Camerino. He is excited about bringing his expertise to the ongoing projects at Burn Design Lab. In his free time, he is a film-buff and a fan of science fiction.
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.
Mechanical Design Engineering Fellow
Elaine joins us as a recent graduate of the University of Washington Mechanical Engineering program. She brings expertise in product design and manufacturing and solid modeling experience. We are very excited for her to begin work on our ongoing shea roaster project. In her free time, she enjoys classic Pacific Northwest hikes, snowboarding, and discovering new music on her weekly Spotify lists.
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.
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!
Grant and Development Fellow
Claire Weitnauer is the Grant and Development Fellow at Burn Design Lab. Claire studied Psychology and Environmental Studies at Davidson College in NC, and is a native of Atlanta, GA. Claire handles communications and development at BDL, and is the voice of BDL on our social media channels, so be sure to say hello! In her free time Claire enjoys cooking, making handicrafts like macramé, and spending time outdoors.
Mechanical Engineering Design Intern
Dan Casey is the Mechanical Engineering Design Intern at Burn Design Lab. Dan is from Boston, Massachusetts, where he is a fourth-year mechanical engineering student at Northeastern University with a minor in experience design. Having worked in 3D printing and consumer robotics industries, he's excited to now apply his design skillset towards the Shea Roaster project, hoping to bring a user-centered design approach to a humanitarian product while learning new fabrication skills. In his free time, Dan can be found playing guitar, exploring Vashon Island by bicycle, and going for long walks in the woods.