The FlueCube Chimney Cowl
Improving ventilation above wood burning stoves and heaters since 2009
The FlueCube is a new, unique in design chimney cowl that is being observed to relieve symptoms of negative pressure on solid fuel appliances worldwide. These symptoms are typically experienced in the worst winter conditions, especially in heavy inversions. These are atmospheric conditions that can be observed to contribute to poor combustion and visible smoke/ particulates inside and outside the living area via the exhaust/ ventilation.
In 2008/ 2009, when strict log wood heating appliance labelling laws came to Nelson and other regional councils around New Zealand and Australia, Neville D'Herville developed his stainless steel flue cap design which consists of a cubic combustion chamber, spark arrestor/flat mesh top, inverted cone and rain shield. On first trial the positive effect on the home heater operation was immediate and his 'chiminee' cap at $500+ got immediate local interest and demand. It received resistant controversy from appliance change-out policy planners who appeared to be more interested in electric heat pumps and natural gas conversions, eventually stopping the use of most wood heaters altogether, certified or not.
Due to observable results in the field - in operation in the home, it was suggested the cowl was able to correct smoke problems on perfectly sound 'older' non-certified appliances as well as new appliances passed through rigorous lab-based testing which too were failing in improving the in-home operation or stop visible emissions in typical winter conditions alone. Application of the FlueCube demonstrates improved performance of the in-home appliance. It does so as a cowl/rain hat - a 'non-inclusion' in National AS/NZS 4013 appliance emissions standards and AS/NZS 2918 flue ventilation standards. It is only certain councils opposed to its use in helping against poor winter air quality.
The local media published an 'insurance scare' article against the cowl after a phone call from the newspaper had said it to be a 'follow up' article on the inventor's first publication. The cowl has been assessed as 'safe' through certified European industry standards and 'Appropriate to its function' independent tests have been performed. It is highly recommended by UK Chimney Sweeps Association and making good sales overseas, and although discouraging toward the local and National industries in accepting the cowl, the local councils and their environment networks haven't produced a mandate that outlaws it.
As a chimney cowl it is unique in receiving European industry standards. Rightly consumers can be selective on what industry standard ventilation cowl/ retrofit they place above their certified, consented wood burner and flue installation. They should protect from down draft/ blow-back symptoms. A cowl/rain hat should not negatively affect the upward flow of exhaust gases from the appliance, that's obvious.
In targeting atmospheric back pressure, entire systems need to be tested for those typical wintertime conditions. Cooling flue terminals - cool air in the flue pipe reverses the flow of the exhaust and is a primary cause for smoke reversing out the appliance into your rooms, poor overall combustion and fuel efficiency, poor - dirty exhaust into the atmosphere.
There is no testing apparatus currently known available that assesses the effects of atmospheric back pressure in normal winter operating conditions, from above the appliance - as a necessary inclusion in laboratory calibrated emissions and efficiency standards. It should be and we at FlueCube International aim to bridge that gap.
So, what's the theory?
Light, warmed air travels upward inside a vertical cylinder. In winter, cold air falls heavily downward on top of it. Without adequate protection on the flue terminal/chimney, fires can be hard to light - smoke spills outward into the living areas, and regardless of common modern appliance designs, often out of the chimney too. Through the primary burn/ heating period combustion can be inconsistent and the overall operation sluggish. A flue without adequate protection cools down faster than the appliance and will cause the fuel to slowly smoulder out. The cowl promotes an overnight burn ability by protecting the flue terminal, not only from wind, rain and snow, but more simply; and with applied pressure differential - from winter's 'cold, heavy air'.
A typical FlueCube experience by consumers is no visible smoke after lighting within 2 - 3 minutes, toward double the burn time conserving their wood fuel, and an odourless - overall cleaner, self sufficient wood heating system - more reliable, for use in winter conditions. A well designed appliance with a FlueCube ventilating it can lower common smoky problems - affordably, and without the need for extra electric fans or filters.
Let's do what we can to reduce wood smoke emissions and residential smog. It is a known airborne irritant that studies have suggested/estimated increases in ill health in winter. Is it the heating/ fuel method that's at fault, or the removable bi-product? Why have a National Standard certifying wood burners when authorities regulating it choose not to allow their installation? Are the standards impractical? ineffective outside the lab? Activists and marketers choose the 'method' to blame for air quality issues and not its bi-product that the right applied science and engineering can solve - as simply and as cheaply as possible. Standards, regulations and fuel/ electric utility transitions justifications in my opinion are not keeping up with our needs. Greater health impacts are from not having sensible, rightful access to a safe, radiant, affordable heating method - a viable 'clean energy' source; promoting sustainability and resilience: Wood. Natural disasters, power cuts and fuel shortages can impact health not only from those of us already at risk. In my opinion, the accessibility of wood fueled heat is a necessity.
Please Note: Although the FlueCube is easy to install, we do recommend using/ consulting with a registered log burner and flue installer. Flue standards are written into the building code. Installation of the FlueCube should not interfere with those existing flue standards. BRANZ: Flue Installations in Enclosures, BRANZ: Installing Solid Fuel Heaters.
We are available throughout the installation process and welcome your feedback and enquiries to get the most out of your winter wood heating experience. Happy heating.
WHERE ARE COMMONLY EXPERIENCED VENTILATION/ EXHAUST FACTORS
IN APPLIANCE EMISSIONS RESEARCH, APPLIANCE STANDARDS/ LOCAL WOOD HEATER RESTRICTIONS?
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The Environmental Protection Agency's Particulate Matter Rules: One Physician's Crusade against Cargo Cult Science
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