Charge Your Electronics with Your Cookstove: The Biolite CampStove

It's a Nalgene-sized wood-burning stove that converts heat to electricity—and then uses it to charge any USB-compatible electronic device.

The Biolite CampStove incorporates technology developed to reduce smoke and airborne particulates from wood or other biomass-burning stoves, a major health hazard for the roughly three billion people around the world who cook this way.

The basic idea is simple. Fires burn a lot cleaner—and a lot hotter—if air is blown into them, feeding the oxygen needed to fuel combustion. Converting a small amount of thermal heat to electricity (via an attached "thermoelectric module") provides the ability to power a small, low-energy fan to accomplish it. The BioLite CampStove takes this technology a step further by allowing you to use the excess electricity to charge electronic devices through an integrated USB port.

The stove consists of a metal cylinder for placing twigs, pine cones, or other biomass, and a separate fan/electric component that attaches to the side. When not in use, the two nest together for better packability.

It's a very cool technology, but the Biolite web site lacks some important details. It notes that the stove is "fast to boil" but provides no specific times. There's no information on how much electricity is generated—or how long it would take to actually charge a device.

About the only specifics cited are its dimensions (8.25" x 5", about the size of a one-liter water bottle), its weight (2 pounds, 1 ounce), and its price ($129). The stove is also not yet available, though the company is "shipping for camping season 2012." A specific release date is not identified, though you can reserve one now and pay only when it ships.

“Equipped” is an AMC Outdoors blog, written by Matt Heid.