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The ceramic honeycomb design of catalytic combustors effectively traps combustion gases and re-purposes this exhaust to generate more heat and conserve energy. Not only does the overall performance of your wood heating application increase when you replace your wood stove combustor, but creosote production and air pollution are reduced significantly.
Catalytic combustors are for natural wood burning stoves, fireplaces, and fireplace inserts. They come in different sizes and are available in round and rectangular shapes. There are also canned and uncanned combustors - "canned" defines the metal band that wraps around the ceramic honeycomb and acts as a catalyst, which causes gases to burn at lower temperatures.
Some important things to remember:
Yes, your wood burning fireplace, stove, or fireplace insert does in fact need a bypass damper to use a combustor. If exhaust temperatures aren't high enough for a combustor to "light-off" the wood smoke that is produced by the fire, these gases must have an alternate exit route until the combustor becomes hot enough to perform its intended duty.
Canned combustors do not need a gasket. However, uncanned combustors (without a steel band) must always be installed with a new expanding gasket.
U.S. Federal law requires that any EPA-certified wood burning appliance must be operated (over the entire life of the stove) with a combustor to reduce air pollution.