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Summary of Participant Survey

Summary of Participant Survey of 2016 Pellet Stove Design Challenge

April 18, 2016

From April 6 – 8, ninety experts gathered at Brookhaven National Lab on Long Island for a pellet stove competition and conference.  Thirty-six people, filled out the satisfaction survey. Although a small sample size, some interesting trends emerged. Here are some of the highlights and several pages of comments from participants.  Click to links to the powerpoint presentationsabstracts and bios of speakers.

  • 34 said it met their expectations.  2 said it did not.

  • 19 said the innovation and variety of the stoves met their expectations. 13 said it could have been better and 3 said it did not meet their expectations.

  • 32 said the communication from AGH was good leading up the event.  4 said it was just OK.

  • 28 said their goals for attending were networking; 25 said seeing the new technology; 23 said learning about testing and 20 said promoting pellet heating.

Panels & Workshops
  • Generally, all of the panels recieved good ratings and no more than 1 or 2 people thought a panel was not useful.

  • The air quality and nanoparticle panels received the highest ratings.

  • The deployment strategy and the pellet stove design panels got lower ratings than others.

  • Participants thought the most interesting speakers were Barbara Panessa and Patricia Fritz, Marius Wöhler, Ricardo Carvalho, Stephen Faehner, Rebecca Trojanowski and Scott Williamson.

Future challenge
  • 34 said they would attend a future challenge.  1 was unsure.

  • 12 said they wanted next one to focus on cord wood stoves and 11 said pellet stoves.  10 said "other".

  • 14 said they would like to see it on the National Mall, 9 said at a university venue, 4 said at Brookhaven and 5 said "other."

Comments from Participant Survey
April 19, 2016
Meeting expectations:
  • It was a very interesting, constructive and productive event. The challenge was impressing and the reviews, too. The fact that the Alliance could join different stakeholders with distinct views (political, technological, social) was a major aspect. The combination of workshops with more practical activities in the lab gives a new perspective.

  • I was disappointed at the lack of investment in this technology in the US. There was a glaring difference between how Germany and the US are addressing biomass appliances. I realize that this is one of the reasons for the event.

  • I would have liked to have more time to talk with people after I heard their presentations. The content level that was presented was great!

  • Some presentations seemed rote or generalized versions of material presented at public hearings--not necessarily prepared especially for this meeting and audience.

  •  I liked the variety of stakeholders, open communication, development of professional relationships

  • I don't know much about this area and I found the workshop hard to understand. Many of the presentations were overly technical and much of the audience was lost because of it.

  • Great way to meet lots of people that I only knew from publications!

  • Would have liked more time for informal interaction with regulators and agencies. Live streaming data or sharing presentations.

Future improvements:
  • It would be better for communication and interactions of the participants with each other, if a single building or two could be used so that it might be possible to hear more sessions (both in the labs and in lecture format) by running back and forth when one session has finished to go to one of the laboratory sessions with the stoves/burners, and still be able to catch a part of another theoretical or data presentation given in the same, or adjacent building.

  • Though I feel Brookhaven is the best, have regional per-events for one day around the country and Europe, each with limited topics prior to the "Grand Event" at Brookhaven.

  • Before going into a lab situation use a quiet room explaining equipment then go into the applied use room Lab. Purpose, presentation, outcome. What we found works and doesn't work. Give a quality printed attendance certificate. Plus and minus, Cause and effect of wood/pellet heating. Thank you.

  • Perhaps a workshop aimed at engineers and other specialists focusing on some of the nitty-gritty details of stove design. This might be by invitation only, perhaps, limited to those with credentials and background that qualify them for higher-level technical/scientific discussion. Discussion might be constrained or distributed in some way to avoid monopolization by the strongest personalities.

  • Provide stove finalists with someone of great knowledge of the industry for guidance and insight (a partner or a mentor and would help the finalist understand the testing that will be conducted and provide consulting on possible modifications to improve the systems performance)

  • Perhaps returning to the Mall with events in a nearby hotel or government agency. Combine events with PFI, BTEC fly-ins.

  • Live feed sharing of some sessions. More networking time.

  • The event was well organized.

  • Wider academic involvement

Other ways to assess stoves
  • Perhaps a weighted assessment including all criteria but weighed in importance. This could be an interactive process with the audience voting on the criteria and their relative importance.

  • Would like to see testing protocol in which portable testing equipment (Testo) could be used in the field to verify proper operation similar to Germany. I understand NESCAUM is currently examining this.

  • Carbon negativity - beyond carbon neutral

  • 1. Ease of use. 2. Installation 3. Inside, outside air, injected air, carbon becomes insulation, what reduces heat and efficiency. 4. Smoke and health 5. Where to find information: YouTube, vimeo, public, private, State, National, International. Monthly focus and input topics from Green Heat newsletter and AGH website.

  • Start-up and reload time and emission.

  • Test a European model, besides the Italian one.

  • Testing under actual use vs. lab conditions.

  • The metrics, from an international perspective, fall short of a 'scientific assessment'. It would be good if the competition used metrics that were more relevant and less kowtowing to the EPA, which needs to up their game. There is a real danger that people will be fine-tuning their stoves to the metrics, not to performance in the real work of emissions and fuel consumption, as is already happening with the EU and EPA tests. The contribution from Marius Wohler was very important: the EU will be moving to realistic duty cycles and metrics and math, all beyond what the EPA and the EU are presently doing. The rise of the 'contextual test cycle' is going to dominate performance assessment at the national and State level in the near future as demands for realistic predictions of future performance increase.

  • Take into account the use of electricity or self-generation. This is very important to not only guys trying to stay off grid but to parts of the population that do not use electricity for religious reasons or live in areas of the country that have spotty, unreliable service.

  • Post abstracts of presentations. Have full program a little bit earlier

  • Give speakers guidance to better suite the entire audience. Or, split up some of the speakers into small breakout sessions.

  • Make sure all the finalists knew the most important test criteria. It was not a problem for me, but may have been for others.

  • Divide the audience by presentation topic or customize the talks to the audience. Some talks were very good but too technical for everyone.

  • Send out an up to date schedule

  • You guys did a very nice job before the event. Directions were put out a head of time and were easy to read. I do wish it had been easier to book a room at the hotel that most of the events attendees stayed at as I feel I missed networking opportunities because of my location. I don't think of my self as an introvert but yet after calling the recommended hotel several times and being told they were booked I am not sure what else I could have done. I ended up staying at the Hampton Inn and it was very nice but I did not like the fact that I was far away from everyone else that I wanted to talk too after the day's activities.

  • The reception and the all event run smoothly and kept the attention to different aspects related to real-world testing and air pollution management aspects, associated to the transition to advanced biomass combustion. The fact that the event was conducted at BNL gave the event another dimension, involving policy makers, producers and top-researchers. I would say, it would be even better if the all event could take place all at the same place - building. The fact that everyone was staying at the same hotel gave to the participants the unique opportunity to interact also after the conference and workshops. However, I would say it would be even better if this could take place in a walking distance from the main venue...

Additional comments about the event:
  • Overall a fantastic event. I'll definitely be back next time. Thanks!

  • Very nice conference, I wish that there were more stoves competing and I wish that there were more details about what the panels would be about.

  • All aspects of the event and data, especially comparative, need to be transparent. Sound, though incredible and state of the art, needs to be people proof. PR-advice on microphone usage, low voice and equipment, very important. People talk and walk around, need to attach the sound to the person(s). Very important information needs to be heard clearly even when they lower their voice. Give all speakers per-instructions on presentation. Would like to also have seen or been directed to a history video tour of Brookhaven National Laboratory on line prior to attending in person.

  • Great job, can't wait to do it again.

  • Hotel is expensive and far from the lab.

  • Excellent preparation and management by AGH and Brookhaven staff.

  • I feel the event was well worth my time and am only disappointed that I have not attended in past years.  If the event is going to be held at BNL again (GREAT PLACE IMO) then perhaps it could last one extra day or start a day sooner so that the last day of the event is not a Friday. I am sure there are a host of reasons why an extra day is not doable but I really wish there had been another full day. I feel like everything was just so jammed together.

  • It's great! I have yet to make it to any of the after hour mixers...but I really enjoy being able to speak with so many people who can answer the questions that I have about how the designs are changing and the influence that this has on the production and composition of the combustion emissions.

  • The audience was first rate. I feel that if there had been more entrants I would have been able to make more contributions to inventors about how to optimize their performance. It is very difficult to get good design advice and such events are one place where knowledge and enthusiasm meet.

  • The event was a wonderful opportunity to meet people face-to-face, people I knew just online or from publications. I think there is room for future interactions that can push green heat forward in North America, Europe and other places like China and Chile. It could be important to start thinking about how to bridge this organization with other stakeholders in Europe - like in Scandinavia and universities in Southern Europe and other regions where wood heating is a relevant issue, requiring more work on advanced stove innovations/retrofits as crucial solutions to mitigate ambient air pollution and health risks.

  • The event was well planned, informative, and concise. However, the traveling across campus to visit different labs was a bit confusing and difficult if you did not bring a car and you were walking in the wind and rain.

  • Having your board members involved was very good. Pellets are easier than firewood so prep was less stressful.

  • Thanks the effort to have organized that event. It is a lot of work.

Next location:
  • I favor a university or Brookhaven, not the Mall (or similar) because it is one of the rare chances that experts on design and performance testing get together with producers. There could be more interchange of that nature and not so much emphasis on 'winning something'. In a sense, the available expertise is running well ahead of the skill of the entrant teams. There a gap in there somewhere that this even could help fill.

  • Brookhaven or University

  • I am indifferent to the venue. I like BNL but recognize it can be difficult to get to and the distance between the facility and the hotel is long.

  • The teacher from Buffalo offered to organize it there, which seemed to be nice. Brookhaven Lab is ok too. It is nice to be in a scientific area. Poor interest for the mall.

  • BNL is a great place. I was going to suggest Penn State or University of Maryland. Also with BNL it seems like many of the participants are from the northeast so it is closer for them. The national mall might get you more attention and it really comes down to what your stated and perhaps unstated goals are going to be for that particular year.

  • Somewhere that the BNL and NYSERDA folks would be able to travel to

  • I would have liked to see more manufacturers and get their input on the steps they have taken to upgrade their design to improve efficiency and emissions.

  • Carbon negative energy developers.

  • other stakeholders (from parts where wood heating is a major issue) - and international experts from the third sector, including international organizations - maybe WHO, other associations of chimney sweepers from other countries, etc...

  • More boiler people, so they can learn how to put on a good event!

  • More of the regulatory community. At least a rep from Westar. Sustainability community More Colleges/Universities Foundations Health community

  • More mainstream industry, more retailers, more student teams, more regulators, USGBC folks, Fuel specialists, Mainstream manufacturers

  • I was surprised not to see Pellet Stove Manufacturers!

  • Reps from packaging in particular packaging bio products. Also would have liked someone from the bulk pellet industry.

  • Test Labs, Manufacturers, Stove designers, mainstream producers

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