[Stoves] Biography of Paal Wendelbo, TLUD stove pioneer
Paul S. Anderson
psanders at ilstu.edu
Mon Jan 19 00:31:47 CST 2009
Stovers, (and to the Gasification list because it is a gasification story that
starts back to the days of WWII)
I have sent a .pdf file to Tom Miles to post on the Stove Internet site about
the exceptionally interesting life of Paal Wendelbo, a true pioneer of gasifier
cookstoves. The file contains 16 photos plus technical diagrams for his Peko Pe
TLUD gasifier. I have placed below the initial part of the written biographical
info, but the full report has much more, including comments about
commercialization efforts in Uganda.
The email formating does not show the italic for the paragraphs quoted from
Paal, so I have indicated them in this extract.
At the ETHOS meeting this coming weekend, I do not have any presentation time
allocated to deliver this story. But during the Friday evening and Saturday
evening informal gatherings I will offer to show the photos and make comments
about what is in the full document and some insights left out because of lack
of space. I hope many will read the full report before the conference.
Paal is subscribed to the Stoves Listserv, and I think he will enjoy hearing
from many other Stovers and discussing topics with all of us on the Listserv.
By the way, the top-lit open fire method described in the first paragraph
actually works. I have tried it in my fireplace and in tiny stacks of
woodchips and splinters. The Boy Scouts should learn this trick.
Paal Wendelbo and His Peko Pe
Top-Lit UpDraft (TLUD) Gasifier Cookstoves
This report is in three parts: pioneer experiences; selection of photographs;
and technical specifications of the PP stove. The report is based on e-mail
interviews and materials provided by Paal Wendelbo in July 2008 and December to
Paul S. Anderson, who has added interpretive content. Mr. Wendelbo has approved
the basic content about himself, but Dr. Anderson is responsible for any errors,
omissions, and editing.
Paal Wendelbo paaw at online.no Paul S Anderson psanders at ilstu.edu
Part One: Paal Wendelbo, Pioneer of TLUD Gasifier Stoves
In German-occupied Norway (1940-45), small groups of men would slip into the
forests for several days at a time as part of the Resistance efforts. Young
teenager Paal Wendlebo regularly went with one group. Their cover story was
the search for additional food, but they avoided the German patrols as best
they could. Their meals were prepared with the smallest of fires and minimal
smoke. The men showed Paal how to lay a small pile of very dry small sticks
horizontally parallel and with the smallest wood on top. They would light the
fires at the top. There were no stove structures or fire containers, just the
sticks. The fires did produce a little smoke, but most of the smoke was
wonderfully consumed in the steady flames at the top of the fuel pile. The pot
was a one-litre tin hanging on a stick extended over the fire.
Paal Wendelbo faced more adversities than just the Nazis. He was not a strong
student in school, and even lost several years of schooling during World War
II. He later worked in a wide variety of interesting jobs, and eventually
became an architect and raised a family. But he divorced and in the 1984
headed alone to Africa to do development work for non-governmental
organizations, mainly with disabled people and refugees.
(quotes from Paal)
I first worked four years in Zambia and became aware of cookstove issues. I
began my serious work with stoves back in Norway in 1988 before my next
employment started. I began utilizing the fire technology I learned during the
war. The stove was tested at The Technical High School in Norway and Denmark.
I made the stove first and the best way to ignite it was from the top using
some kerosene, but also with straw there was no problem to ignite on top. Some
others tried to ignite the PP stove from underneath, but that gave a lot of
smoke. I did not really understand the process; it just happened and it looked
nice and useful. I have no training in thermo-technical matters. Several years
later I found a cookstove booklet of P. Visser and it was more of a confirmation
that I was on to something.
My new contract was with Handicap International in Mozambique dealing with
organization and employment for handicap people. I was told before starting
The job has nothing to do with stoves. Then I had one year in Uganda
dealing with stoves, but my friends told me I could join the evening parties
only if I did not talk about stoves.
(end of this quotation)
Next came one year in Ghana where his stove work continued only as a
personal effort, mainly during extra time in the afternoons. He returned to
Uganda for two years to work with stoves and fuel for a Norwegian NGO and a
forestry department. He experimented with fuels and found acceptable a variety
of dry biomass materials that were commonly discarded. In addition to small
pieces of wood, bundles of marsh reeds and even straw burned successfully. The
local refugees in northern Uganda helped pick the name, Peko Pe (pronounced
peh-co peh), which means problem no.
<< snipped out about 2/3rds of the report>>
Paal Wendelbo certainly deserves his place and recognition as a true pioneer in
the development of cookstoves utilizing the top-lit updraft (TLUD) pyrolytic
gasification technology. We look forward to learning more from him and his
vast TLUD experience.
Paul S. Anderson, Ph.D., Geography professor - Emeritus
Telephone: USA-309-452-7072 (residence and office)
Internet site: www.ilstu.edu/~psanders
For my gasifier stoves info, go to:
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