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Rusty Beaver
(rustyb) - F

Locale: Presence
A simple alcohol stove more fuel effecient than the Jim Wood Super Cat? on 11/16/2011 14:04:52 MST Print View

I'm using the following Super Cat with 15 3/16" holes on the top and 10 on the bottom: http://jwbasecamp.com/Articles/SuperCat/index.html

It boils 2 cups in 4.5-5 minutes on one fluid ounce of 190 proof. I get these results at 9,000' or below starting with cold creek water (haven't measured temps). I use a foil screen and a 5.5" diameter titanium pot with a very rounded bottom.

Is there a similarly simple stove that will boil 2 cups on 1/2 fluid ounce of fuel?

Hikin' Jim
(hikin_jim)

Locale: Los Angeles, CA, USA
Re: A simple alcohol stove more fuel effecient than the Jim Wood Super Cat? on 11/16/2011 14:40:05 MST Print View

Rusty,

2 cups on 1 fluid ounce isn't particularly efficient. 3/4 fluid ounce is more common for 2 cups. Getting it down to 1/2 fluid ounce to boil 2 cups is pretty good and is less common. Finding a simple stove that is so efficient that it can boil 2 cups of water on 1/2 fl. oz. may be something you'll have to work at. I can get close to that level efficiency with my Caldera Cone set up, but I hesitate to call the Caldera Cone simple.

HJ
Adventures in Stoving

Rusty Beaver
(rustyb) - F

Locale: Presence
Re: Re: A simple alcohol stove more fuel effecient than the Jim Wood Super Cat? on 11/16/2011 15:54:42 MST Print View

Hope I didn't word my post to imply I thought my stove was efficient...cause I know it's not:-).

Could you point me in the direction of something, relatively simple, that might work on 3/4 fluid ounce? Your Caldera Cone set up looks nice but, like you said, perhaps not so simple.

Thanks.

Hikin' Jim
(hikin_jim)

Locale: Los Angeles, CA, USA
Re: Re: Re: A simple alcohol stove more fuel effecient than the Jim Wood Super Cat? on 11/16/2011 16:12:21 MST Print View

Well, first, I'm not the DIY alcohol stoves expert. So, be sure to take a look at a lot of designs.

Having said that, take a look at this photo.

In particular look at the homemade stove in the center of the photo. This is an open (the center is not sealed) top jet stove (jets on top). I prefer this style because it's easy to fuel, easy to light, and is reasonably efficient. I can get a boil on about 2 cups with a stove of this type with about 3/4 ounce of alcohol if I have a properly sized pot. You want to get a squat shaped pot, one that is wide but not tall, so that you don't have flame "spillage" which will cut your efficiency. See photo below. You don't want that.


The stove in the first photo was made for me by a friend. Let me see if I can get a design for you, but again I'd encourage you to look around on your own. Zen Stoves has a lot of designs available.

HJ
Adventures in Stoving

Edited by hikin_jim on 11/16/2011 16:43:59 MST.

Jon Fong
(jonfong) - F

Locale: FLAT CAT GEAR
Improving efficiency on 11/16/2011 18:52:33 MST Print View

Everclear 190 is a pretty potent fuel. You may find that by adding a small amount of water that your fuel efficiency goes up. The slower burn rate could make your flame pattern smaller and thereby more efficient. Besides, it doesn’t cost anything. I would start by adding 10% water: BTW, I use Everclear 150 in my stoves and it works well (cooler than S-L-X).

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: A simple alcohol stove more fuel effecient than the Jim Wood Super Cat? on 11/16/2011 23:34:47 MST Print View

You can find stoves that are more fuel efficient, but there are likely other trade-offs: the stove will be heavier.more complicated so it traps more heat (like the Caldera Cone type design) and/or boiling time will be longer (like Sgt Rocks Ion stove). In my experience, The Ion stove was the most efficient if the wind shield was set up well. In moderate weather I could boil 16oz on just .3oz of fuel provided the windscreen was set up perfectly and I was willing to wait 14 for the boil to begin. Personally, I settled on the UL/Compact Caldera as my primary stove for the combination of ease of use, effectively in the face of mixed conditions, and acceptable fuel efficiency.

--Mark

Dan Yeruski
(zelph) - MLife

Locale: www.bplite.com
Re: Re: A simple alcohol stove more fuel effecient than the Jim Wood Super Cat? on 11/17/2011 09:00:29 MST Print View

The Jim Wood SuperCat is most efficient. I've made them and tested them. 1/2 ounce denatured boils 2 cupos in 4.5 min. Denatured alcohol is the best fuel to use. You design your stove so you can use it. You don't really want to be adding water to slow your rate of burn down. the ion stove was too slow for real world conditions. Many reported not to be able to achieve a boil with it out in the field. Like mark said, the windscreen had to be set up PERFECTLY. A slow stove will be a PITA out in the field. ..............Mark, try the ion with your caldera cone, I bet it will work.

Edited by zelph on 11/17/2011 09:02:28 MST.

Hikin' Jim
(hikin_jim)

Locale: Los Angeles, CA, USA
Re: Re: A simple alcohol stove more fuel effecient than the Jim Wood Super Cat? on 11/17/2011 22:02:47 MST Print View

You can find stoves that are more fuel efficient, but there are likely other trade-offs: the stove will be heavier.more complicated so it traps more heat (like the Caldera Cone type design) and/or boiling time will be longer (like Sgt Rocks Ion stove). In my experience, The Ion stove was the most efficient if the wind shield was set up well. In moderate weather I could boil 16oz on just .3oz of fuel provided the windscreen was set up perfectly and I was willing to wait 14 for the boil to begin. Personally, I settled on the UL/Compact Caldera as my primary stove for the combination of ease of use, effectively in the face of mixed conditions, and acceptable fuel efficiency.

--Mark
Hi, Mark,

Thanks for a good summation of the trade offs. I've kind of come down in a similar fashion and given up on some efficient but "fiddly" stoves.

HJ
Adventures in Stoving

Hikin' Jim
(hikin_jim)

Locale: Los Angeles, CA, USA
Re: Re: Re: A simple alcohol stove more fuel effecient than the Jim Wood Super Cat? on 11/17/2011 22:04:47 MST Print View

The Jim Wood SuperCat is most efficient. I've made them and tested them. 1/2 ounce denatured boils 2 cupos in 4.5 min.

That is pretty darned efficient, particularly at that speed. Do you have a photo of your set up? I'm assuming you've got a pretty good windscreen if you've got those numbers.

HJ
Adventures in Stoving

Kevin Beeden
(captain_paranoia) - F

Locale: UK
re: A simple alcohol stove more fuel effecient than the Jim Wood Super Cat? on 11/23/2011 10:52:02 MST Print View

It's only really sensible to discuss fuel efficiencies in terms of the entire cooking system. Trying to talk about efficiency of a burner alone will get you nowhere.

So, we need to consider how well the burner is matched to the pan, and how much heat is wasted up the side of the pan. We also need to consider the windscreen, and the fuel wasted during any priming phases.

If you have a burner that runs hot (for example, the Rusty's burner getting through 2oz of fuel in 5 minutes), you need to have a system that can extract that high power output. Generally, this means a large area to the base of the pan, or a heat exchanger (that's the principle behind the JetBoil et al; pulling out heat from the flame that would otherwise be lost up the side of the pan). If the burner is too powerful for the pan to usefully take heat from the flame, then energy will be lost, and the efficiency will be low.

If you have a low power burner that burns fuel slowly, there's a chance that the losses from your cooking system to the environment are such that efficiency drops, but Tom Beasley did some useful experiments on boil time vs burn rate for gas stoves that seem to indicate that you have to go pretty slow for this effect to be noticed, but it depends on the operating environment (temperature, wind).

Without a windscreen, the lazy flame from an alcohol burner is likely to be blown about by breezes, thus losing more energy, reducing the efficiency. A windscreen also reflects heat back to the burner, causing it to evaporate fuel faster, thus making it burn hotter and faster (more powerfully). This can reduce boil time, but can also reduce efficiency if it makes the burner too powerful for the burner/pan/windscreen system.

If a burner requires a priming phase that prevents the pan being placed over the heat, then we're wasting fuel again. That's one reason why I don't like priming burners, not to mention the additional faff required; I like 'fire-and-forget' burners I can simply light and stick the pan over. Some priming burners are also fire-and-forget.

We also need to consider the 'flame gap'; how far we hold the pan above the burner. This depends on the type of burner. The pan can sometimes be too close, which 'quenches' or puts out the flame before all the fuel has burnt, or it can be too far away. Quenching is noticeable by a sweet, sickly smell of partial combustion products (you can find out what an alcohol burner 'exhaust' should smell like by running the burner with no windshield and no pan; it should smell simply warm and moist). The optimum (for fuel efficiency) flame gap can only be determined by experimentation with the entire stove system, in my experience.

Then, when doing fuel consumption comparisons, we need to make sure we're not comparing apples and oranges. Methanol has an energy content of 18.8kJ/ml, whereas ethanol has an energy content of 24.7kJ/ml, 31% more than methanol. So, when reading other people's fuel use reports, we need to make sure we understand what fuel they're using.

Oh, and we need to check water volumes, too; US stovies generally use 2 cups (473ml), whereas non-US stovies may use the near equivalent of 500ml. This issue of measures may also have an impact on the fuel volumes; most refer to 'ounces', which I've always taken as shorthand for 'US customary fluid ounce', 29.6ml, rather than the imperial fluid ounce, 28.4ml. The US fluid ounce is a somewhat strange measure, since one US fluid ounce of water doesn't weigh one ounce; no doubt the origin is lost in the mists of time, but must be based on a liquid with a density less than water (wine, possibly, but at what %age alcohol...?), or on a simple 3D volume. To confuse matters further, US food labelling regulations use a different definition of the fluid ounce (exactly 30ml). Wiki has a useful entry, as usual.

I've settled on a system based on a caldera clone and a trangia-style burner made from 250ml red bull cans, with a conic inner wall that allows the burner jets to be made on the rim of the pressed dimple, giving a conic flame ring that focuses on the centre of a small pan. It's made and operates in a similar way to the one Jim suggested earlier. BTW, here's my attempt at a set of instructions for building a burner of this type.

The clone provides an efficient windshield, holding hot gas close to the pan to encourage heat transfer, as well as a pan support. This system allows me to routinely boil 500ml water with 15ml UK-spec 95/5 ethanol/methanol 'methylated spirits' (i.e. mostly ethanol). If I'm boiling more or less water, I can scale the amount of fuel I use and get a boil as expected.

Having spent a lot of time and effort playing with many stove designs, it's disheartening to find that one of the simplest is also just about as efficient; take a 250ml red bull can, and make a simple, open-cup burner by cutting a suitable height cup off the bottom; an inch, say. No priming, no vapour chamber, no fancy jets; just a simple puddle of burning alcohol. Obviously, it needs something to hold the pan above the burner to allow the fuel to burn.

It's interesting that both Rusty and Dan are using the same Cat Stove design, and yet one uses twice the fuel of the other (bear in mind my comments about comparing fuels). It would thus be very instructive to see the exact setups that both use, so we may be able to figure out just how this discrepancy arises, and where the energy is lost/is saved.

Hikin' Jim
(hikin_jim)

Locale: Los Angeles, CA, USA
Re: re: A simple alcohol stove more fuel effecient than the Jim Wood Super Cat? on 11/23/2011 14:25:24 MST Print View

Kevin:

Thank you very much. That was a succinct statement of the facts around alcohol stoves:
-They have to be treated as a system (burner + fuel + windscreen + pot).
-Any fuel required for priming shoots efficiency numbers all to heck.
-There has to be a proper balance between fast heating and slow heating. Too fast and the heat can't be absorbed by the pot. Too slow and the heat is lost to the environment faster than the the stove can overcome. The proper balance is however very much on the slower side.
-The height of the burner with respect to the bottom of the pot matters.

Having spent a lot of time and effort playing with many stove designs, it's disheartening to find that one of the simplest is also just about as efficient; take a 250ml red bull can, and make a simple, open-cup burner by cutting a suitable height cup off the bottom; an inch, say. No priming, no vapour chamber, no fancy jets; just a simple puddle of burning alcohol.
I've also stumbled upon that size of aluminum can as a good one for stoves. That size tends to prevent excessive thermal feedback/the stove running too hot and makes for a slower but more efficient burn.

It's interesting that both Rusty and Dan are using the same Cat Stove design, and yet one uses twice the fuel of the other (bear in mind my comments about comparing fuels). It would thus be very instructive to see the exact setups that both use, so we may be able to figure out just how this discrepancy arises, and where the energy is lost/is saved.
My experience with cat food can stoves hasn't been good in terms of efficiency. Most of the heat is lost up the side of the pot. I've generally discarded the idea of side burner stoves unless I'm willing to carry a pot larger than 1000ml (which I'm generally not).

HJ
Adventures in Stoving

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: re: A simple alcohol stove more fuel effecient than the Jim Wood Super Cat? on 11/23/2011 14:40:59 MST Print View

HJ, you might consider building a decision tree diagram for the alcohol stove design problem.

For instance, there are different starting points for this. For one stovie, fuel efficiency might be the top priority. For another, boil speed might be top. For yet another, it might be based on simplicity of a DIY construction or the weight of the burner. Fuel capacity might figure in. A lot depends on the diameter of the boiling pot.

Following fuel efficiency, it might depend slightly on the exact fuel, whether it is 190 proof Everclear, HEET, or whatever. Some of this may vary depending on the ambient conditions, e.g. if it is below freezing, or if the wind is at a certain speed.

In fact, HJ, you can probably start a whole new career around this. When you fill out an income tax return and you have to fill in the box that says "occupation," you can write Professional Stovie.

--B.G.--

Rusty Beaver
(rustyb) - F

Locale: Presence
Re: re: A simple alcohol stove more fuel effecient than the Jim Wood Super Cat? on 11/24/2011 09:59:05 MST Print View

Thank you very much, Kevin! I'll make one of the stoves based on your directions when I get time (great job, BTW). Thanks to the other posters as well for their info.

Below is a photo of my set-up, minus the windscreen which, is nearly as tall as my pot with about 1/2" space between. I also leave a gap just big enough for the pot handle to come through.

stove/pot

Hikin' Jim
(hikin_jim)

Locale: Los Angeles, CA, USA
Re: Re: re: A simple alcohol stove more fuel effecient than the Jim Wood Super Cat? on 11/24/2011 11:46:41 MST Print View

Rusty,

Looks like a nicely done Super Cat.

The problem I've had with side burners is that the flames tend to go up the sides of the pot, thus wasting heat. If you look closely at the photo below, you can see the flame extends up around the edge of the pot directly in the center of the pot.


The great advantage of the Super Cat is it's incredible lightness. Mine weighs 7g if I recall correctly. If you can get a good stove+fuel+windscreen+pot combination, you've really got something. You just have to play with it. Jim Woods, on his site, appears to recommend slightly smaller holes than a standard hole punch in order to "tone down" the stove. If one can "tone down" the stove a bit, then the flames wouldn't shoot up the side of the pot, and the stove's efficiency would be higher.

HJ
Adventures in Stoving

Rusty Beaver
(rustyb) - F

Locale: Presence
Re: Re: Re: re: A simple alcohol stove more fuel effecient than the Jim Wood Super Cat? on 11/24/2011 15:05:40 MST Print View

Thanks, HJ.

I can't remember exactly where my flames go (too lazy to find out at the moment) but it seems, if my memory serves me correctly, that they wrap around the rounded edge of my pot but don't extend up beyond that.

I have only made two of these particular stoves. The first one I used a paper punch on...and the holes were in the 1/4" range. It wouldn't boil 2 cups with one ounce so I made another (one in pic) with the smaller 3/16" holes.

You also bring up a point that's been in the back of my brain; stove weight. Even if I'm successful with building a more efficient stove such as the one Kevin gave directions to, is the heavier stove going to negate the weight I save in fuel? My sole motivation with this was to save weight on 3-4 day trips.

Thanks again to you and everyone else. I'm not a big fan of technology in general but I do love the ability to come to a forum like this and tap into the vast knowledge base all you cool folks are so willing to share.

r

Dan Yeruski
(zelph) - MLife

Locale: www.bplite.com
Re: Re: Re: Re: re: A simple alcohol stove more fuel effecient than the Jim Wood Super Cat? on 11/24/2011 21:39:08 MST Print View

Aluminum pots, got to have 5-6" dia. pot for efficiency.

Hikin' Jim
(hikin_jim)

Locale: Los Angeles, CA, USA
Re: Re: Re: Re: re: A simple alcohol stove more fuel effecient than the Jim Wood Super Cat? on 11/24/2011 23:03:51 MST Print View

rusty b wrote: > Even if I'm successful with building a more efficient stove such as the one Kevin gave directions to, is the heavier stove going to negate the weight I save in fuel? My sole motivation with this was to save weight on 3-4 day trips.

The stove that Kevin is talking about, the one from 250ml Red Bull cans, is going to be pretty light.

But let's do some math. Your first stove required > 1 fl ounce of fuel. Let's say that Kevin's stove can save you about half a fluid ounce of fuel per 2 cup boil. If you do two boils per day of two cups each for five days, you would save 5 fl oz. of fuel. 5 fl. oz. is approximately 150 ml. The specific gravity of ethyl alcohol is 0.789. Yes, we're not dealing with pure ethyl alcohol, but just to get some numbers, lets use 0.8 as the presumptive specific gravity of our fuel. 150ml is therefore an approximate weight savings of 120g (about one quarter of a pound). That's a pretty good weight savings. Even if the weight of your Red Bull stove was four times the weight of a Super Cat (4 x 7g = 28g), you'd still save 92g (3 ounces). Of course if you boil more water or take a longer trip, your weight savings would be more significant.

Even on a shorter trip, say one of three days, your fuel savings would be 3 fl. oz. which equates to about 72g (2.5 ounces), so unless Kevin's stove design weighs more than 72g (no way!), you're still getting a weight savings.

You might also have some weight savings because you might be able to take a smaller fuel bottle. A smaller fuel bottle also tends to be easier to pack.

HJ
Adventures in Stoving

Edited by hikin_jim on 11/24/2011 23:16:17 MST.

Kevin Beeden
(captain_paranoia) - F

Locale: UK
re: stoves & things... on 11/25/2011 07:45:17 MST Print View

Jim wrote: "The stove that Kevin is talking about, the one from 250ml Red Bull cans, is going to be pretty light."

Yes, it's also about 7g, so pretty similar to the Cat Stove. It cannot serve as a pan support like the Cat Stove can, but I use a caldera clone* to do that, and provide an efficient windshield that encourages heat transfer by holding the hot combustion gases close to the pan.

Here's my conic-walled burner:

inverted conic red bull burner

* actually, I use a two-part Flissure clone, weighing 25g, that fits in the pan it supports, thus needing no caddy:

Caldera Flissure Clone for Alpkit MyTiMug

A clone is a little heavier than a simple windshield, but it makes up for it in stability, pan support and increased fuel efficiency.

The issue of how much fuel to carry is one of the benefits of alcohol fuels over gas stoves; you can carry just as much fuel as you need, and take a bottle sized to suit. With gas, you're limited to fixed-sized canisters (which, being steel, are heavy compared to a small plastic bottle). I played with the numbers a while back, and, to my surprise, found that a conventional canister-top gas burner never 'wins'. See this OM thread.

Rusty wrote: "I'll make one of the stoves based on your directions when I get time"

My OM article is simply my spin on the assembly of a 'classic' or 'Pepsi can' burner (aka trangia-style, open-reservoir, annular vapour chamber, low-pressure, jetted burner). There's nothing original in the design presented. The conic-walled vapour chamber burner above is more unusual. The conic wall is necessary to allow jets to be placed inside the dimple, thus forming a conic flame ring to concentrate the flame on the base of small pans.

Bob wrote: "HJ, you might consider building a decision tree diagram for the alcohol stove design problem."

It's certainly true that different people have different requirements, and approach the concept of 'efficiency' with different perspectives. For me, it's weight, and therefore fuel efficiency, but others like a quick boil. 'Light, strong, cheap; pick any two' comes to mind, only we might end up with more degrees of freedom: 'light, strong, cheap, fast, fuel efficient, easy to make'...

A decision tree would certainly be interesting. Especially if you added all the other fuel choices. It might get rather large...

Edited by captain_paranoia on 11/25/2011 07:45:48 MST.

Hikin' Jim
(hikin_jim)

Locale: Los Angeles, CA, USA
Re: re: stoves & things... on 11/27/2011 21:22:31 MST Print View

Nice burner and nice fissure clone. 28g for the clone? That's very light and more than made up for in stability and efficiency.

What kind of fuel consumption, with what kind of fuel, can you get when heating 500ml of 20C water to 100C in a plain (non heat exchanger) covered pot?

That's a very sophisticated set up for a DIY set up. I'm very impressed.

The conic interior walls of the burner look like they'd be a lot of work and a bit of a trick, yes?

A very interesting article you wrote on OM. What would happen if you started with a 450g canister rather than a 230g canister? What would happen if you only boiled 1 liter per day (500ml morning, 500ml evening) which is a little closer to my actual solo consumption.

One can, by the way, custom fill gas canisters although there's sort of a general, non-specific anxiety about refilling canisters that are marked "not to be refilled." I bought a high quality refiller from an eBay seller in Japan, and I refill with 100% butane. I can only use my refilled canisters for weather above about 40F/5C, but for that they're fine, and refilling is no more dangerous (perhaps less dangerous) than screwing on a burner and boiling a kettle of water.

HJ
Adventures in Stoving

Tony Beasley
(tbeasley) - MLife

Locale: Pigeon House Mt from the Castle
Re: Re: re: stoves & things... on 11/27/2011 21:59:47 MST Print View

>refilling is no more dangerous (perhaps less dangerous) than screwing on a burner and boiling a kettle of water.

Some extreme caution when refilling canisters,if the canister is totally full of liquid gas with no space for the liquid to expand to, this is a very dangerous situation, especially if you have a naked flame nearby.

Tony