Regarding gasification and smoke and mirrors and all that...
Bark and sticks and stuff, the good stuff, is a combination of 3 things:
1. Moisture, which needs to be boiled off, which sucks energy and reduces temperatures.
2. Pitch and other hydrocarbons that burns as volatile gasses, and more moisture.
3. Cellulose that burns initially mostly as volatile gas, later mostly as charcoal with no moisture.
As I understand it you always will get a combustion cycle that begins as mostly #1, then a combination of #1 and #2, then a combination of #2 and #3, and then finally mostly #3, which is the hotest and cleanest but perhaps only 25% of the total heat released.
The gasification strategy is to reduce the primary air to below what is required for complete combustion, and then provide secondary air later, enough for complete combustion. This has at least three desirable effects that are relevant to small wood stoves.
1. Most of the combustion happens above the fuel when the secondary air is introduced, which increases the temperatures locally to complete combustion of the volatile gases released.
2. The fuel bundle burns more like a continuous feed, from the top down, so that the volatile gases and charcoal of each level of the bundle only has to deal mostly with boiling off its share of moisture, and not so much the moisture from the lower levels until it burns down to there.
3. Even though #1 and #2 are spread more evenly across the fuel cycle, you also get the benefit of more charcoal being formed and carbon monoxide gas being generated at lower levels with the primary air. So you get more even combustion, but also a hotter fire at the end, to help bring your water to boil, and perhaps clean some soot off your pot.
4. The lower level also acts to insulate the fire in the upper levels from the cold ground.
Still works better with good fuel though. Spruce sticks like we have here would work very well I think, and some birch bark as well to get things going. It takes some practice to figure our how much fuel you need, and how much tinder to mix in with the top layer, and lower levels, to get it burning and have it progress well, and breath right. Really dry fuel makes it very easy, and wet fuel and a cold pot on a cold day can make things really hard, especially if your in a hurry. With this type of stove I would simply use a bigger combustion can in winter, and always carry my fuel for the next fire in it.
I've never really thought out or gotten the secondary air thing working right.
This stove design has inspired me to do so. Great stove, and nice pictures also.
p.s. I finally ready the last paragraph of your description and I agree now that I think this stove would perform better in a more pure top down and batch feed mode rather than some sort of continous side feed mode. Just gotta match the size of the combustion can to the size of your pot, with some adjustment for the quality of fuel in you area, and climatic conditions.