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Bio Bricks this season - 4 Tons!

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by cogger, Sep 29, 2007.

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  1. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    I'll give this a try, though I am not a scientist or product expert. To my knowledge, bio bricks, pressed logs and most pellets are not made from trees cut explicitly for their manufacture. Instead, they use the tremendous amount of sawdust that is created from the lumber and plywood industry. This used to be considered a waste product. They use their own fuel to dry the sawdust and in some big plants to power them. It's sifted very clean so that one is burning virtually no bark. The infrastructure is expensive, but is a one time expense. Some pressed log machines were made in the 1920's and are still in production! Yes, there is transportation environmental costs, but so is there for any fuel.

    According to bio-bricks their product has been tested to be about 52% less emissions (in gms/hr) than clean cord wood burning in an EPA certified stove. A lot of that is because one does less refilling over a 24 hr period than with burning cord wood.

    Is it perfect, absolutely not. Is it more environmentally (and politically independent?) friendly that say middle east oil or even US coal? Definitely yes. If the goal is zero carbon footprint, perhaps we all should be living underground or at least in earthbermed houses, 1/4 the current size, wearing sweaters and heating our houses with just the lighting and appliances within it. But there are a few million existing homes in the way right now that still need heat. To be clear, I'm not advocating everyone stop burning cordwood. It makes great sense to burn it cleanly when locally available. Biobricks, pellet stoves, & compressed logs, are a great alternative for people in an urban or suburban area where fuel has to be trucked in regardless and where population density dictates much cleaner burning per household. Considering that is where the majority of the population now lives, the product makes good sense to me.

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  2. drewmo

    drewmo Feeling the Heat

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    Well said, BG. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts about bottled water and how transportation of such impacts the enivronment ....

    Piecing together everyone's comments, it appears bio bricks could be competive in price with wood (split & delivered), not to mention their potential advantages, if burned properly, to the environment. Obviously the small bundle I bought at the supermarket is overpriced compared to bulk purchases. Then again, this is France, and I pay less for a bottle of wine than I do for a bottle of Evian water. Go figure.
  3. kellog

    kellog New Member

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    Begreen,

    I’m still not buying that bios are less expensive. Again no data to back it up but I just don’t see it clearly.

    The infrastructure for bios is not a one time expense. It needs to be maintained and/or replaced over time. That is why we depreciate capital. Also you added even more to the operations (sifting?).

    A cordwood operation is much less capital intense and likely less energy intensive.

    I’ll agree with you the environmental advantages may be there. Also I will agree we have to get away from foreign oil before the oil rich countries buy the US in its entirety.

    Finally, I am sure bios have there place just as pellets do but I just can’t believe they are more cost effective than cord wood.
  4. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Oh, don't get me started on water. How the soda companies convinced millions their water was unsafe and then sell them city tap water for $8/gallon? These companies are laughing all the way to the bank at the planet's expense and yet are the first to fight recycling laws and deposits. They should be called on the plastic carpet and buried in their debris.
  5. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Of course, I didn't mean to imply it was maintenance free, neither are chainsaws! But the system is pretty clean.

    The difficulty in comparing to chainsaws and cord wood is that it is full of hidden variables in trucks, splitters, saws, etc. distributed over many thousands of people. It's hard to summarize the environmental impact of the manufacture, repairs, etc of all that is required for cordwood, from cutting, moving, splitting, moving again to the customer. Maybe Eric has seen some studies. But it is measured and quantified that 2 strokes are notorious polluters. A gallon mix burned saw is equal to a huge number of miles driven in a clean car.

    When I get a chance I'll see if there have been any studies published on this. You could be correct, but so far I'm not convinced.
  6. oregonrider

    oregonrider Member

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    Are these just available on the west coast or is this an east coast item? roben.
  7. Greg Ray

    Greg Ray Member

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    If I could find them in TX I would give them a try!!!!!!!! Not sure what a I would have to pay for them but they sound good!!!!!
  8. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    East coast only AFAIK.
  9. eliter

    eliter New Member

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    Lame no picture of 4 tons of bricks :( LAME
  10. kellog

    kellog New Member

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    Begreen,

    I have no arguement with you on the enviromental side only the cost side and particularly how the infrastructure drives cost.

    Although totally unsubstantiated, I believe cordwood costs less than bios to produce and deliver. We need some more expertise than you and I have to decide this. Where is Biopellet? Does anyone else have some expertise that could help.
  11. cbrodsky

    cbrodsky Member

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    Comparing the cordwood to bricks using BG's numbers, you need 1.5 tons of Bios (at about 17MBtus/ton) to equal 1 cord of wood (25MBtus).

    They are very convenient but not a cheaper option than wood unless you're paying $375/cord for wood. (assuming the Bios are $250/ton)

    -Colin
  12. kellog

    kellog New Member

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    NY,

    good point. I was comparing apples to oranges when I calculated 1.3 times more heat for a ton of Bios. I compared a ton of wood to a ton of bios not a cord of wood to a ton of bios. However oak is one of the best woods out there but even using a less dense wood like birch bios still have no economic advantage.

    Thanks for showing me my error.
  13. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Colin, you are missing the weight of a cord of wood. That's correct as long as you remember a cord of wood is going to be 2 tons or more. So the bios make economic sense in many areas where cord wood is expensive.
  14. kellog

    kellog New Member

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    Begreen,

    Weight is unimportant to the economic arguement. As you said yourself it is BTUs per dollar. So cordwood is always less expensive in BTUs / dollar even with moderately dense woods.

    This is not to say Bios are not good. I have a friend who burned cordwood for 25 years and switched to pellets a few years ago because, at 60+ years old, he could no longer do the physical work it took to do cordwood. Bios would have saved him installing a new expensive stove. Too bad they were not available then.

    I think Bios are a great product and have their market as stated above (in the city, people who don't want to or cannot do the physical work, people who want to be greener possibly and likely other reasons).

    Those who are looking at ecomonics as their foremost concern should stick with cordwood.
  15. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Sorry, I don't remember saying that. If I did it would be wrong as I have no idea what one is paying per cord for the wood. That seems to vary a lot. In most cases I would think that you are correct, even locally it is rare to see a true cord of wood costing more than $250. But in urban areas where cordwood can cost > $400/cord delivered, then the economics move towards biobricks. Not to mention, cleanliness, convenience, long burn, clean-burn, etc. which also have value.

    If bottom line cost if what is most important, typically, the best value is still cord wood.
    If the positive aspects of bio bricks or other compressed wood products are more important, then that becomes higher value.
  16. cbrodsky

    cbrodsky Member

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    BG - the BTU number I used (25M Btus) was your number by the cord - which is how the wood is sold. You could do the calculation on a unit ton of each as well - but you'd have to divide the price of the cord roughly in half when translating to dollars, since a ton of wood is a lot less than a cord, as you state, and I think it makes the comparison less clear:

    Example:

    1 ton of BioBricks = 17M BTUs for $250
    1 ton of wood = ~1/2 (cordwood price) = $200/cord * 0.5 = $100/ton = 13M BTUs for $100

    Either way you'd come out to the same conclusion which you also said in your last post - you have to be paying in the ballpark of $400/cord before the biobricks are cheaper.

    -Colin
  17. kellog

    kellog New Member

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    I'm 100% in agreement with you now.
  18. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Colin, I think we are all in agreement. It just depends where you place the value and the local cost of wood. Right now we are seeing cordwood sell in suburban and urban environments for more than $350/cord. At this time of year it's really hard to get dry wood. So paying $350+ or even $200 a cord for unseasoned wood is a poor value if you need good heat now. For those folks, a compressed wood product is a good value. We just saw someone run into this on Long Island. Also, if you are in an area or microclimate which is subject to temperature inversions, then the cleaner burning of the compressed wood is important. When I note that the local air quality is deteriorating badly due to a stagnant system, I try to burn less and burn compressed.
  19. kellog

    kellog New Member

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    fishercat,

    From wikipedia,

  20. johnnywarm

    johnnywarm Minister of Fire

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    Hows the bio blocks doing ??I have a couple of Question's. First how many Blocks are in one Package? Second, how many Blocks does it take to keep the stove running for 12 hours? Third,What do the packages weigh-- 40lb????? are there 50 a pallet??


    Thank you John
  21. mjbrown

    mjbrown Feeling the Heat

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    hi guys,
    new to your forum and have a few quetions...

    my home is approx.1100 sq ft and wood is my primary heat this year as oil is close to $4 a gallon this year in maine.
    i bought 6 cord of hardwood this year at $100 a cord tree length and i had to work it up myself.how many ton of bio bricks would i need to be equivalent to 6 cord of wood? i know that if i go to pellets, i would only need approx. 3 ton.


    also, my stove is homemade wit a 2'x2'x2' fire box...how should i load it to have a safe efficient, and comfortable fire?my math skills suck , so i ask for any advice you may give.

    thanks in advance,
    Mike Brown Hartland, Maine
  22. staplebox

    staplebox Member

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    -johnnywarm,

    The bricks come 50 bags to a pallet - 20-2lb bricks to a bag. I am not sure what lenght of burn you could get. I can get 8-9 hours during the day and have enough coals left over to get going again but the heat drops more than I like. It takes 12 bricks to do that. I could fit, but have never tried, another 6 in the stove. Once you figure out how to burn them you can't beat how easy they are store and use. However, for the heat you get they cost a good bit more than cord wood. I only use them during the day when I am not home. I can't get 7-9 hours with just wood, no matter how big a log I stuff in there. I can't get the bricks in my area right now. Supply < demand.
  23. johnnywarm

    johnnywarm Minister of Fire

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    Thanks Staplebox.

    I know the people selling them around here ran out also. I can only imagine how easy they are to store seeing how pellets are to store them wood.I think the early scare tactic got everybody to at least try them,similar to when pellets ran out in 05.


    Thanks again!!! i'll give them a shot. John
  24. crazy_dan

    crazy_dan New Member

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    count me in on the frugal, cheap,and tightwad category
    I will try them when they get even down to even double the cost cord wood for me thats about $20-25 a cord. Labor not included as I do not bill myself and I can not here the cellphone over the saw so people leave me alone :coolsmile: wich is always good.
  25. mjbrown

    mjbrown Feeling the Heat

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    hi guys, thought i'd stop in and say thanx for the quik response! i posted a question on the 14th of jan. and still waiting for a answer...guess i will go with the pellet stove, at least people will answer questions for a new guy wanting to try something that might be better.

    mike brown hartland, maine
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