We design efficient, durable, culturally appropriate cook stoves — that all can afford.

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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.

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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. 

About History


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.

The Team