BEST is working on the scientific and technological basis for processes which use biomass and waste to produce heat, electricity, gaseous and liquid energy carriers and sources, and basic materials for the chemical industry. The company also carries out research on the joint use of bioenergy and other renewable energy supply technologies as a means of providing efficient, sustainable and economic solutions for the energy system of the future.

The competence center BEST - Bioenergy and Sustainable Technologies GmbH is funded by BMK, BMDW and the federal states Vienna, Lower Austria und Styria within the scope of COMET - Competence Centers for Excellent Technologies. The program COMET is managed by the FFG

The strategic objectives of COMET are: developing new expertise by initiating and supporting long-term research co-operations between science and industry in top-level research, and extablishing and securing the technological leadership of companies. By advancing and bundling exting strengths and by integrating international research expertise Austria is to be strengthened as a research location for the long term.


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The CleanAir by Biomass Project has shown that user training can reduce pollutant emissions from biomass heating systems by over 50 %. Launched in november 2019, the Citizen Science project CleanAir II is set to explore this topic in more detail for the province of Styria.

The Clean Air II project aims to significantly improve the operation of firewood stoves by users, thus achieving substantial emission reductions for this type of appliances and contributing to improve air quality. A modern and efficient way to communicate this topic to a wider public is to involve users themselves in the research through what is termed citizen science.

Workshops are held to allow users of firewood stoves to operate a 'real life test stand'. The heating behaviour of several users on three identical firewood stoves can be compared in parallel using a mobile infrastructure. An online measurement system visualizes the emissions so that the effects can be monitored live. This illustrates the influence, which different modes of operation have on emission release. Participants and the interested public can also download the citizen science app 'FireMonitor', which allows them to document their behaviour when operating their own stove. These real-life data, including the type of stove, start of heating, amount of wood, burning time and flame photos, are used to draw conclusions on emissions and provide users with valuable feedback on how to improve their own heating behaviour.

Impact and effects

The workshops will be rolled out in different Climate and Energy Model Regions in the province of Styria – around 100 to 150 households in each region will be included. The project will thus involve over 1000 Styrian households throughout the project duration. A total of eight workshops with 60 combustion runs were carried out in the 2019/20 heating season.

The project placed a special focus on measuring carbon monoxide (CO) emissions from three firewood stoves operated in parallel. The stove operated by typical users produced significantly higher emissions than the stove operated by experts, and this despite the fact that the users themselves were usually convinced that their mode of operation was the best. The emissions are shown live so that the users were able to monitor the effects of their heating behaviour directly for the first time. The third identical firewood stove was additionally equipped with a flue gas catalyst, which further reduced emissions significantly.

Another seven workshops are planned for the coming heating season. The FireMonitor app in particular is expected to provide additional insights into user operating behaviour and the emissions behaviour of their heating systems.

The project is funded by the regional government of Styria and FFG under the COMET Programme.



  • Energie Agentur Steiermark GmbH, Austria
  • Palazzetti Lelio SPA, Italy
  • TU Graz, Austria
  • TU Wien, Austria
  • University of Ostrava, Czech Republic
  • FH Wiener Neustadt, Campus Wieselburg, Austria

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