Ethan Carlson

Prototype Engineer - Entrepreneur - Experience Designer

Whirl Cookstove

Research Assistant


Black carbon is a major contributor to climate change and indoor air quality issues, especially in countries where the majority of food preparation is done by cooking over biomass. The Whirl cookstove is an appropriate technology designed to help address black carbon and incomplete combustion without adding cost or complexity.


So-called "whirl" combustion is characterized by nearly complete mixing of combustible material with oxidants, and occurs when reactants are inserted or injected into the combustion chamber tangentially, creating a turbulent vortex. The cookstove project was an attempt to apply whirl combustion to solid biomass, and was successful by focusing on the method of air entrainment.

My Work

I inherited the first version of the project from a graduated Masters student in 2011 and was the only person working on it from 2011 to 2012 when the project was completed. My main responsibilities were generating and synthesizing testing data from the use of the metal stove in various conditions and operating modalities, and then using insights from that data to design the next (ceramic) generation of the cookstove.


The ceramic whirl combustion cookstove was successful at reducing the amount of black carbon, PM10, PM2.5, and carbon monoxide in the combustion products, and could be manufactured for less than $20 USD. You can read my senior project poster here.


The research on the cookstove was published in the Journal of Combustion Science and Technology, Issue 9.165 as “The Whirl Cookstove: A Novel Development for Clean Biomass Burning”. I was the second author.