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Request for Proposals

September 4, 2017

Request for Proposals
from teams seeking to compete in the 2018 Wood Stove Design Challenge

The Alliance for Green Heat is pleased to announce the availability of grants of up to $10,000 to teams seeking to participate in the 2018 Wood Stove Design Challenge.  The Challenge promotes innovation in automated cord wood stoves and thermoelectric generation from stoves.  The grants are funded by the Department of Energy's Bioenergy Technology Office.

Participants will compete in two events.  The first seeks to automate wood stoves with sensors  or controls that improve thermal  efficiency, emissions and ease of use.  The second competition will focus on thermoelectric wood stoves that generate electricity to power lights, cell phones or home batteries..  Teams select which area they intend to compete in and may compete in both.

Background
The Alliance for Green Heat launched the Wood Stove Design Challenge in 2013 and this will be the fourth competition.  Each Challenge builds a learning community where participants gather, share ideas and information and stoves are tested in an open and transparent environment.  Past challenges have brought together hundreds of people from industry, state and federal agencies, academia, the non-profit community and the public.  They have provided inventors and companies with free emissions testing and design help, and have also given small businesses a boost, helping them establish their company and commercialize their stove—several of which are now available on the market.

Key partners and funders have included NYSERDA, the US Forest Service, the Osprey Foundation, Brookhaven National Lab, the Washington State Department of Ecology, the Masonry Heater Association, Popular Mechanics, the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves and Schott Robax.

Grant Opportunity
Grant funds can be used for supplies and materials used for building the stove, R&D, testing and travel.  The grants are made possible through the DOE's Bioenergy Technology Office (BETO).  The DOE's funding announcement said, "the Wood Stove Design Challenge is a critical part of BETO's overall goal to develop revolutionary, sustainable bioenergy technologies to convert our nation's abundant biomass resources into renewable biofuels, biopower, and bioproducts. BETO will provide $125,000 in funding for research grants on stove technology, as well as support the management of the grants. Enabling the technology innovation that will allow millions of families to have access to affordable, efficient, and clean wood stoves is an important component of the growing bioeconomy."

Teams will be selected for grants using a  competitive process based on the five  criteria listed below.

  1. Relevant experience of team members
  2. New or innovative features or technologies
  3. Demonstrated progress toward designing and/or building a safe, high performance stove
  4. Performance data, if a prototype exists
  5. Demonstration that funds are needed for the completion of the stove or attendance at the competition.

Teams will be assessed based on an Application Form that includes a narrative section, a budget, drawings, photos (if available) and other documentation.  The Application Form provides additional details about the five criteria listed above. The assessment  may also include a phone interview.

Team eligibility
These R&D grants are available to anyone in the United States who seeks to compete in the 2018 Wood Stove Design Challenge.   This includes individual inventors, university teams, companies, non-profits and others. 

All work for projects selected under this RFP must be performed in the United States. This requirement does not apply to the purchase of supplies and equipment, so a waiver is not required for foreign purchases of these items. However, all challenge recipients should make every effort to purchase supplies and equipment within the United States. There may be limited circumstances where it is in the interest of the project to perform a portion of the work outside the United States. To seek a waiver of the Performance of Work in the United States requirement, the applicant must submit an explicit waiver request in its application to this RFP.  For more information about waivers, please review the document, Waivers to perform work outside the United States.

Stove eligibility 
All stoves must be designed for space heating, but may also have a cooking function.  Stoves designed just for cooking and not space heating are not eligible.  Stoves do not need to be built yet, can be an early prototype, or already on the market.

1. For the automated stove challenge, stoves must have technology that optimizes combustion conditions for thermal efficiency and emissions at various parts of the burn cycle and prevents the homeowner from overriding that technology.  A stove could be a fully automated stove, allowing the operator to "load and leave" with no operator controls or it could let the operator adjust heat output, as long as the stove can optimize combustion conditions first and heat output second.  Most automated stoves will have sensors and actuators but stoves can use other technologies that automate the combustion process without the use of sensors or electricity.  Single burn rate stoves, that have no controls whatsoever for operators and no way to automatically adjust airflow are not eligible in the automated stove category.

2. For the thermoelectric stove challenge, automation is recommended as it will likely help to optimize electricity output and safeguard components from overheating.  Traditional, manually operated stoves are eligible but must demonstrate that they burn cleanly and have or could pass EPA emissions standards.  Applications for grants for manually operated stoves will need to show evidence of initial testing for at least CO or a demonstrated ability to build stoves that can pass EPA emission standards.

2. Teams that build automated stoves that produce electricity are eligible to compete in both categories.

How to apply
Online Application
Applicants should fill out the online application and submit it together with required attachments, e.g., photos, test results.  Applications are due by November 1, 2017.  Applications may be sent after November 1 and will be considered if funds are still available, which is likely.   The Organizing Committee will strive to make a decision within three to four weeks after receiving a complete application.  Grants could be sent to teams as early as December 1, 2017 and we expect  to disburse most funds by February 1, 2018.  We encourage teams to take their time and submit a high quality application. For monthly updates on the availability of grant funds, please subscribe to our newsletter which will provide this information and more on the 2018 Challenge.

All applicants also need to register their interest in competing.  This information is public and enables people to contact you and for you to contact other teams.  The information you provide in the application for funding is confidential and will not be shared with anyone outside of the Organizing Committee.

Disbursement of grants
Grants will typically be disbursed in two $5,000 amounts, but it can depend on team needs, budgets and progress on the stove.  We envision providing $5,000 upon being selected as a grant recipient and the second $5,000 could be disbursed when a working prototype is finished, or when funds for travel to the event are needed. 

Selection of finalists to compete on the National Mall
Teams that do not need funding have an equal chance of being selected to compete on the National Mall in November 2018.  These grants are for those teams who need additional funding to complete their stoves and travel to the event.  Receiving one of these grants makes you a finalist but when you arrive, if your stove is consistently emitting visible smoke, creates a safety issue or is hazardous in any way, you may not be allowed to operate the stove during the event and will not be eligible for any of the prizes.

The 2018 Organizing Committee
The Organizing Committee oversees the selection of finalist teams, developing and implementing the rules, fueling and testing protocol and other key issues to ensure the integrity, fairness and success of the 2018 Challenge.  The Committee includes national experts and representatives of key stakeholder groups.   All applications for funding will also be reviewed by a member of the BETO staff.

Questions?
Please submit questions to info@forgreenheat.org.  All questions will be answered within 48 hours.  Thank you!