Meet Co-founder Damon Ogle

Damon OgleDamon demonstrates a water pasteurizer to a guest at winter Stove Camp.

Damon Ogle retired from engineering pursuits with his eyes fixed on building clean drinking water and safe sanitation systems in the developing world. Instead, InStove’s co-founder and Director of Technology found himself pioneering technology designed to address a global need for clean cookstoves.

Born in Tillamook, on Oregon’s north coast, Ogle grew up in Grants Pass, a small city in Southern Oregon’s Rogue Valley. After graduating from the Colorado School of Mines with a degree in mining engineering, Damon spent most of his professional life as a partner in a gravel crushing business, often traveling in his spare time.

After taking early retirement to pursue volunteer work for humanitarian causes, in 2000 Damon worked with Habitat for Humanity both in El Salvador and closer to home in Oregon. Determined to put his engineering skills to use, he began searching for an organization that could train him to develop drinking water and sanitation systems in the developing world. Through contacts at Northwest Medical Teams, now Medical Teams International, Damon heard about Aprovecho Research Center, a Cottage Grove, Oregon nonprofit dedicated to developing sustainable technology.

Initially interested in Aprovecho’s water system training course, Damon soon learned of the organization’s work with clean cookstove technology. “Then I discovered the stove lab and fell in love with it,” he says. After a training program, Damon began consulting with Aprovecho on projects in South America and overseas. Becoming “really hooked on testing” stove performance, he spent a year working with scientists from the University of Illinois to develop the first emissions testing system for cookstoves. Later, Damon traveled to India to conduct stove-building workshops and worked with other Aprovecho researchers to develop what became the Portable Emissions Monitoring System (PEMS) in order to field test stoves under real world conditions.

After contributing to the clean cookstove movement’s ability to test their products, Damon tackled a new challenge: designing and building large cookstoves for use in refugee camps, boarding schools and other critical institutions that serve some of the most vulnerable populations in the world. After completing initial development of what would become the InStove 60 Liter Stove, he spent six weeks in country with AID Uganda building a dozen stoves onsite with pre-manufactured combustion chambers.

In order to test different design features, Damon’s team built each stove slightly differently and conducted real word performance tests “Those kinds of tests were sadly lacking,” says Damon. “They still are.”

Returning to Uganda a year later, Damon inspected each stove to determine which design features worked and which failed the most critical test possible: long-term use. Armed with this information, he was able to fine-tune the design of the 60 Liter Stove. After experimenting with Chinese factory production, Damon and InStove co-founder Fred Colgan started a stove factory in Cottage Grove and developed the Stove-Factory-In-A-Box system to manufacture stoves anywhere in the world.

Working from a concept presented by Dale Andreatta, Damon also designed and built a unique water pasteurizer system that works with InStove’s 100 Liter Stove and can provide safe drinking water to rural communities plagued by a host of water-borne diseases.