Waikato student’s design a trail blazer

5 November 2014

Luke Sinclair

University of Waikato engineering student: Luke Sinclair with his ‘Trail Blazer’ prototype at the recent Carter Holt Harvey Pulp & Paper Engineering Design Show.

University of Waikato engineering student Luke Sinclair has designed an ultralight wood-fired stove that can boil a litre of water in less than 10 minutes.

Idea inspired by 3000km trek

The tramping enthusiast came up with the idea earlier this year when he and class mate Kendall Bristow completed a 100-day, 3000km trek from Cape Reinga to Bluff.

“People have always looked to the wilderness for an escape from the chaos of everyday life, yet we often bring with us shoulder destroying packs full of wasteful gas canisters. While initially convenient, these canisters become less convenient when they run out and leave you in the middle of a mountain range eating cold beans,” says Luke, speaking from experience.

During a year-long research and design project, as part of his final year Bachelor of Engineering (Honours), he completed extensive research and testing. His initial idea has been developed into a highly efficient, lightweight and functional backpack stove, which he says is perfect for campers, trampers, extreme adventurers or any outdoor enthusiast.

“The design of the Trail Blazer integrates rocket stove efficiency with an outer cone that insulates the chamber while also acting as a sturdy base. A removable feed tube allows easy access to the chamber when starting a fire and the feed tube is angled to allow fuel to feed the fire automatically as it burns.”

No effect on the environment

The former Pukekohe High School student says the design also ensures a clean burning flame and no mark is left on the environment. “Secondary combustion is achieved as air heated against the chamber rises up through the intake holes creating the right conditions to ignite smoke. Ash is contained and the base is elevated meaning no mess and no scorching.”

Not only is the Trail Blazer clean, but it’s also versatile and compact, featuring a collapsible support designed to hold a soup cup, a frying pan or anything in between. “The support cone, feed tube and pot support are all simply detached and stored within the 180mm tall by 75mm diameter main chamber.”

The prototype is made from stainless steel, weighing just 300g. But Luke hopes to improve the design, by sourcing thinner stainless steel and eliminating welds, to reduce the weight further and decrease production costs.

“My ultimate goal is to get this to the point where it could be manufactured and distributed on a profitable scale. On a personal level my goal is to walk the 4,000km Pacific Crest Trail from Canada to Mexico, fuelled solely by the Trail Blazer.”

The prototype was on show last month at the University of Waikato’s Carter Holt Harvey Pulp & Paper Engineering Design Show.

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