Inspired by the work of Paul S. Anderson [Dr. TLUD] , Hugh McLaughlin, and WorldStove, I offer the start of a small collection of photos of a Peacham natural draft TLUD made from recycled cans.  I look forward to seeing how these pyrolysis units will be improved by the contributions of others to this Open Source project.

The goal, as is usually the case, is to provide designs for people to make their own clean burning stoves using the heat of pyrolysis at as close to zero cost as possible.  This is not to take anything away from ‘manufactured’ stoves that are ‘sold’ and thus cost more.  These very simple stoves, could in fact, be precursors to more sophisticated units.

1. Traditional three stove stoves, as used by about 2 billion people “at the bottom of the pyramid” are bad for the health of women and children — 5th largest killer of women and children — and tend to promote deforestation as women collect fire wood.

2. It will be a benefit to the people using three stone stoves if they can make for themselves nearly free stoves that burn much cleaner and thus reduce mortality from respiratory problems caused by three stone stove smoke [black soot].

3. Large particle black soot from three stone stoves also contributes to global climate disruption, even if it falls out of the atmosphere in a matter of weeks.

4.  Stoves based on the complete combustion of their fuel produce no by-products with high utility or value to the family.

5. Very clean burning stoves, based upon pyrolysis:

  • Substantially reduce deaths from inhalation of stove smoke
  • Produce a by-product with high utility and value to the family [biochar];
  • Reduce the pressure to burn “stick” wood and thus tend to reduce deforestation;
  • Reduce the time required to acquire fuel for cooking;
  • Give an immediate environmental benefit by substantially reducing the amount of large partical black carbon soot injected into the atmosphere.

The goal of this small Open Source Stove project is to remove as many barriers to the adoption of stoves based upon pyrolysis as possible.

Since the stoves have essentially cost zero, they may make good tools for educational purposes in schools.  The younger people are when they learn about pyrolysis and biochar, the greater the over all benefit.

I like to ask this simple question:

What can I do with one can?

I can make a stove
I can cook a meal
I can make biochar
I can be carbon negative
I can start to change the world

That’s why I call my stoves iCans.

So welcome to the wonderful world of stoving.  Just do it.


A Wood-Gas Stove for Developing Countries, 1996 paper by  T. B. Reed & Ronal Larson. [Click on the link to download the PDF]

The TLUD stove list is here.

IBI: Biochar Misconceptions and the Science

WorldStove FAQ

You can see some of my earlier work on stoves, and perhaps learn from some of the false starts, here:

The Peacham Volcano, a natural draft  iCan TLUD stove project


Cans as they come from the store.  Note:  They are designed to inter-lock.


Two soup cans converted to a TLUD stove based on pyrolysis.  The cat food can on top is a short draft enhancer.  It is but one of many options.  The bottom can is the fuel chamber.  It works well with 1.5 cups of fuel. In the bottom of this can are some small primary air holes.  I arrange them symmetrically.  Often in triads.  I start with holes that are about 7/64s of an inch.  If there are too many holes I tape them over or fill them with small  bolts.  It is better to start with too few and too small holes.

The holes used for secondary air in the combustion chamber are interesting.  The unit above is based on a 6 sets of holes.  Seven sets may work better.  The combustion chamber and the secondary air holes have to be tuned to work well with the fuel and with the nature of the primary air holes.

Note: Holes for primary and secondary air can be made with various sizes of nails and spikes driven by a rock or a hammer.  No power tools are required.



A Costco three pound coffee can has been added to act as both an insulator and a windshield.

An option is to also use a 6″ to 4″ “reducer” that will rest nicely on the coffee can.  This can be used to support a grate.  It will also capture some of the hot air trapped by the outer can.

Webb Stove Platform.jpg

Various TLUDs and a stove enclosure devised by Marshall Webb of Shelburne Farms.

Marshall’s stove enclosure configured with 4 Toucan TLUDs was used with great success for two weeks by summer campers at Shelburne Farms.  They pretty nearly filled the bucket on the left with biochar.

The Peacham TLUD unit on the left is one of my latest designs.  It is actually in full operation, even if no smoke or flames can be seen. My goal is to achieve the controlled release of the thermal energy in the fuel while getting a clean, hot, process that yields very clean biochar.  There is just a huge amount to learn.  Having many modules to switch in and out is key.  Watching what changes is very useful.  Warning:  this play really brings out your inner pyromaniac.

So far,  have achieved some very good results.  My largest stove, based on a one gallon can as the fuel chamber, delivers 1,500 degrees to the pot bottom.  This drops off to 1,400 degrees after 60 minutes.  The fuel load of just two liters supports over 70 minutes of pyrolysis.