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Bought a wood chipper - burning green chips

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by Nofossil, Apr 7, 2013.

  1. Nofossil

    Nofossil Moderator Emeritus

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    I finally broke down and bought a 3-point hitch chipper to deal with the brush piles. I originally figured we'd use the chips for mulch and compost and trail cover, but I found myself looking at this big pile of biomass, and one thing led to another.....

    My chips aren't really green - they're a mix of green, dry, and way past dry into punky. There's a Christmas tree in there somewhere, poplar branches, white and red cedar, white pine, buckthorn, and anything else that looked chippable (honey, where's the cat?)

    Bottom line: I'm amazed at how well they work. You have to have a *good* bed of coals, but they burn hot and clean with *no* puffing. I wish I could figure out a reasonable way to store and handle them.
    Joful and Taylor Sutherland like this.

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  2. iceguy4

    iceguy4 Minister of Fire

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    I wounder if a harman will burn them?
  3. ewdudley

    ewdudley Minister of Fire

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    On a residential scale I can't seem to come up with a practical solution. I was thinking something along the lines of taking a forage wagon split lengthwise, or the whole thing, with an air-flowing floor, fill on one end, run solar heated air though it from time to time, and get dried chips out the other end. Don't know how I'd make it all fit in very well anywhere near the house.
  4. infinitymike

    infinitymike Minister of Fire

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  5. infinitymike

    infinitymike Minister of Fire

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  6. JP11

    JP11 Minister of Fire

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    There is no bigger "impact" implement I own than my hydraulic feed chipper. Makes land look so much cleaner and nicer in just a small amount of time. I have been opting for blowing the chips into my roads.. and just using them to level the low spots. too much labor to collect the chips IMHO. your labor would go a lot further cutting trees. BUT.. if you're doing it for science.. why not.
  7. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    Could you make crates out of pallets, maybe put it on a small trailer, & just direct the outfeed into that? Then move the crate to where it needs to park with combined FEL & pallet jack? Or something like that?

    Once you start feeding the chips onto an established coal bed - will they maintain the coal bed on their own? Or would you need to alternate with wood? When I load in 'hog fuel' off my floor, it burns real good on top of coals but doesn't leave much behind.
  8. JP11

    JP11 Minister of Fire

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    I had about a 6 yard dump body on my F650.. I tried to blow the chips into that. I couldn't blow them DOWN into it. It was more horizontal, with the bed tipped up a bit. It didn't work well.. as many bounced out as ended up in the bed.

    I think you'd have better luck blowing them ONTO a tarp. But still going to be awful labor intensive. A big trailer made for silage would work. you need something tall to deflect them down.

    JP
  9. rkusek

    rkusek Minister of Fire

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    How about a grain bin?
  10. arngnick

    arngnick Member

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    My old boiler was supposed to burn chips so I have a bin full of them in my basement. Sine I am not hauling them out I burn them in my new boiler...they work great! They fill all the voids between other wood and burn up before the wood burns completely so they do not fall through my nozzle! I rented the chipper and blew the chips directly into the basement when I did it.
  11. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    nofo, as you mentioned, "I wish I could figure out a reasonable way to store and handle them." Add to that "transport, possibly dry and compact them." I guess that is why there are pellets: easily stored, handled, compacted, dried and transported. A local ethanol plant was constructed with a gasifer that used wood chips. Dump them into large hopper, where the chips then were fed into a combustion area at a controlled rate which by the heat of combustion first boiled off the moisture and then combusted them, with the gas into a lower chamber for final combustion and heat to drive the distilling process. Very expensive, and as best I heard resulted in a gummed up mess and very sticky litigation.

    What you have could be solved a little short of rocket science, so go for it. A residential scale chip burner would be great. I'm not sure the labor, storing and handling to the burner site would end up much less than handling round wood though.
  12. willyswagon

    willyswagon Burning Hunk

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    Growing up Dad would always get a pick up load of wood chips(Hog Fuel) from one of the local suppliers. It was terriable to deal with. Shovelling chips into the basement sucked!
    We used them as kindling, and they were great for that. I would sooner throw in the 8 cords we burn every year rather than handle the chips.
  13. Nofossil

    Nofossil Moderator Emeritus

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    Yeah, I really can't see a reasonable approach that makes sense in terms of labor and equipment. I just had to experiment, though. At one time I contemplated buying a batch of ten pound mesh bags (the ones that onions come in) and using those to bag, store transport, and finally burn. Still too much work per BTU, though.

    In my boiler you need to have enough wood to maintain a coal bed, but one of the nice effects is that with chips you're absolutely only burning on the bottom. That seems to eliminate any tendency for puffing. Perhaps one good use (as argnick suggests) is to extend the load by filling all the voids between logs with chips. Since I have a small firebox that would be nice on cold nights especially.
  14. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    Might this be the clue to a solution: use the wood coal bed as a starter, then load the chips above, which then would superheat a ceramic "coal bed," which then could be driven only by loading chips above, with the combusting chips continuing to maintain the superheated ceramic coal bed?
  15. Nofossil

    Nofossil Moderator Emeritus

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    I've thought of throwing in some of the 'lava rocks' that they use for barbeque grills. Might clog the nozzle, but might actually work. As long as they stayed hot enough. Maybe if I added some firebrick to give me an angled floor in my combustion chamber so everything ends up at the nozzle....
  16. scooby074

    scooby074 Feeling the Heat

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    I really like the idea of going with chips for my next place. Mechanical fuel handling FTW!

    Has anybody tried out or investigated the new Portage and Main chip boiler? Looks to be an interesting unit. Performing well on green chips in the video and I like the attached chip storage




    I posted this in another thread that has since been locked!:( Its from Scotland. This guy has the complete setup. He's in a historic home, and used to spend over $60k to heat with oil.. He's saving thousands by using biomass.

  17. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    I like that stack of chips. Looks like he compressed the chips into round logs for easy outside storage. What a great idea!:)

    Clogging of the nozzle, with or without lava rocks, would be an issue. I also thought of a slow moving screen, back and forth, or something like that, to keep the nozzle from clogging.
  18. Karl_northwind

    Karl_northwind Member

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    I saw the P&M chip burner at last year's Heating The Midwest with biomass conference. the guy who was demoing it is a friend, and may have it there this year. outside Duluth MN.

    karl
  19. Mushroom Man

    Mushroom Man Member

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    I found that commercial apple crates (4'x4'x2' high) work great with rear forks on the tractor for transporting split wood, kindling and biomass to the boiler room (attached garage, in my case). Apple farmers will sell old apple boxes cheap. I think those boxes would work well for chips too. Slightly damaged plastic ones would be ideal because they have great ventilation; but the wood ones hold up pretty well to the elements and burn well eventually.

    I like the idea of burning chips with cord wood and other biomass like my mushroom substrate (mostly straw). Cleaning up the fence rows could yield a lot of biomass and chipping branch material may make red cedars worth the effort of processing. I have 35 acres of red cedar bush

    I have successfully burned the biomass with a good coal base and have also burned chips with a good coal base. I tried lava rocks but most fell through my over-sized nozzles which need repair. With some kind of grate to keep the lava rocks in the right chamber, that idea might work well with chips and other fine biomass.

    If I see a cheap used PTO driven chipper, I'm gonna jump on it like white on rice.
  20. scooby074

    scooby074 Feeling the Heat

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    I understand it is a relatively new machine. Have you heard any positive or negative comments on it yet? P+M are usually good machines, but you never know.
  21. Karl_northwind

    Karl_northwind Member

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    I saw it a year ago. I'll see him at the conference in a couple weeks and ask him how it's been running. the Irony is that his place (strawbale, super insulated, passive and active solar, and such), is efficient enough that he has no need for an OWB or any boiler for that matter. I make a point of poking him on that when I can.
  22. 711mhw

    711mhw Feeling the Heat

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    nofo, sounds like you have the tractor......... have you ever seen those pallet sized sacks that have loops in the top to hang from forklift forks? I think that they are a drawstring type top and have a funnel shaped bottom with another drawstring there. They support themselves and as long as they didn't freeze to the ground you could maybe make a rack to hang one from (for use) at the "wood entrance" at wheel barrow height for final transport. I've seen them used for about $15.
  23. nate379

    nate379 Guest

    Why spend the money on equipment and workers to chips all those nice logs? Wouldn't firewood be cheaper? I'm not getting it!

  24. PassionForFire&Water

    PassionForFire&Water Minister of Fire

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    I think it's all about automation.
    I personally would not like to fill cord wood in any wood boiler over 200,000 BTU/hr (60 kW)
    With a wood chip boiler, you can fill your storage for 1 or 2 weeks at a time and still be able to "enjoy" life
    This picture is a Heizomat (Germany) wood chip installation.

    Attached Files:

  25. scooby074

    scooby074 Feeling the Heat

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    This is it in a nutshell.

    The convenience of pellets in a greener form (chips require less energy input). Plus its a form you can make reliably yourself. Logs, yard waste, general forrest biomass.. all goes into the chipper.

    Think "mechanical" firewood.
    PassionForFire&Water likes this.

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