Introduction: Steve (@batchrocket.pt)
Aside from family and my land, two major passions drive my life these days. One is the need to look after the natural world – the environment in which we live – in the face of rising populations, greater industrialisation and increasing pressure on wild lands. The other is social organisation – how do we build the kind of communities that satisfy our basic human need for companionship, and what needs to happen in those communities to hold them together? Strangely, the Rocket Mass Heater project tickles both of those passions.
I've been involved in the project since the earliest days. I'm not really a stove builder, though I do lend my hand when needed; more of a mentor, administrator, and technical advisor. In terms of building, my biggest contribution so far has been casting most of this year's riser parts from the special refractory castable that we use. Otherwise I try to keep things in order in terms of bookkeeping, recording what is decided at meetings, and so on.
And why does the rocket mass heater tickle my passions? First, it's environmental credentials as a woodburner are impeccable. A rocket heater is super clean-burning (so it produces almost no polluting smoke) and is also highly efficient (requiring less wood for a given amount of heat in your house). Second, it can be produced locally using mostly local materials and with minimal technology. That means it is perfect for small community-oriented production teams – so there is great potential for creating interesting local work for local people.
I'm very much looking forward to what the future holds for this project!