It all started in 2013 with an international design competition called the Wood Stove Decathlon.
Two University of Maryland students from the Clark School of Engineering, who would later go on to launch a startup venture based on their ideas, comprised the only student team participating in the design competition with established industry manufacturers.
The goal of the competition, held on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. and hosted by the Alliance for Green Heat, was to develop a wood stove that would break out of the complicated and unclean traditional wood burning methods and pave the way for a more energy-efficient and clean-burning method.
UMD’s Team Mulciber won the Low Emissions Prize. The same invention went on to win the Grand Prize at the Alliance for Green Heat’s Wood Stove Design Workshop last year.
Following the competition, two students from Team Mulciber launched a startup called MF Fire to continue their work and make products that help people use natural and sustainable methods to keep their homes warm.
“For centuries, the world relied on local, renewable wood fuel to heat their homes. However, traditional wood burning was dirty and complicated, and much of the world gave up wood for fossil fuels,” said Taylor Myers, Chief Technical Officer of the startup and a graduate of UMD’s fire protection engineering program. He is currently a mechanical engineering Ph.D. candidate at the University.
Myers worked with Ryan Fisher, who completed his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in fire protection engineering program at UMD, to develop the Mulciber stove.
In Myers’ words, “Mulciber provides clean and sustainable energy, transforming the way the world heats their homes.” It uses nothing but wood fuel.
“Other home heating systems, like fuel oil, propane or natural gas, are expensive, non-renewable, or both,” Myers said. “The Mulciber was designed by fire scientists to outperform all of these: providing the natural heat of inexpensive and renewable wood without emitting health harming emissions.”
The stove, which features a matte black finish with a large viewing window and the world’s first ultra-clean heater that emits less smoke than a single cigarette, is named after the Roman god Mulciber, who represents “perfect control of metal and fire.”
Support for the startup came in from several quarters. The university offered the team funding during initial stages for competition and development.
“The university was tremendously generous. It was its funding and encouragement that allowed our student team to perform as well as we did,” Myers said.
UMD’s Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute (Mtech) guided them through the market scenarios to help tailor the product according to customer requirements. “We have had a lot of help from Mtech, particularly Satish Tamboli [venture advisor, Mtech Ventures] and Craig Dye [director, Mtech Ventures],” said Myers.
The Office of Technology Commercialization offered support to MF Fire to secure intellectual property protecting the Mulciber. They also helped speed up the licensing process so that the product could be taken to the market soon.
In five years, MF Fire will be “continuing to innovate and use our engineering expertise to create better products that improve lives,” Myers said.
To learn more about the MF Fire Mulciber, visit http://mffire.com/the-mulciber-stove/.
November 2, 2015