Fires and clean air ‘possible’

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A flue cap invented by a Nelson man lowers the emissions from wood burning fires and makes them more efficient, international testing has found.

For the past four years Nelson City Council has told Neville D’Herville his cowl – which fits on the top of a chimney – wouldn’t be recognised until it is tested in New Zealand. Council staff and even some councillors have also told residents having them installed could be an insurance risk and they need to be taken out.

But Nelson mayor Aldo Miccio says he is now trying to get it tested outside a lab, potentially paving the way for the flue caps to be installed on Nelson homes.

Neville invented a flue cap in 2009 and says it is designed to make fires more efficient. Around 2000 have been sold throughout New Zealand and a British distributor says he’s sold thousands in the UK without bother and is now introducing them in Europe.

But councils in New Zealand want it tested here to make sure it’s safe.

Neville is refusing to allow them to do it because the testing is done in labs, without back pressure conditions you’d find in the real world.

He says the conditions in the lab are drastically different to what they are on the top of someone’s house and that the lab testing is measured half way up the chimney, not at the top of it where the flue cap is.

He says lab testing would probably show no improvement by having the Fluecube installed so refuses to have it tested until it is done outdoors.

His UK distributor, Fluecube, has had outdoor testing done, at the University of Colorado and the results were positive. It showed not only does the cap lower smoke coming from the chimney, it makes the fire burn hotter, heating the home quicker and with less wood.

Aldo says the results appear to be great news and he’s keen to have it tested in New Zealand, outside a lab. “Anything that can lower emissions and allow people to use wood burners is something we should look at and if they can do the outdoor testing overseas why not here? I know Neville has brought this to council before but I’m keen to have a closer look at it.”

Neville says Nelson City Council and the government have tried to shut him up because the industry around replacing old fires with new is good for the economy. He says his flue cap could be used on old fires and would make them cleaner burning than new fires.

He has produced dozens of letters from satisfied customers who have them on their homes and says his one has been installed for years without trouble.

Murray Sinclair of P&M Fireplaces in Tahunanui says he’s used the Fluecube himself and he says it works. “In our experience it makes the fire operate better and after a puff of smoke when you first light it, the fire just returns to clear emissions coming out. It solved our problems on a number of occasions.”