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Econoburn sales conversation

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by smangold, Feb 19, 2008.

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  1. smangold

    smangold Member

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    Hi, I talked to the Econoburn people today.Same $ as the Tarm. They claim that do to larger amount of refractory mass and a modulating fan that their unit is less dependent on the storage tank than the others. Salesmen should always be taken with a grain of salt. However what he was saying does make some sense. He also claimed greener wood was acceptable. I do really like the idea of water storage, but even in homemade form it adds quite a bit of work and money. Then I would suddenly be wanting a radiant loop .$$ The only thing that didn't seem perfectly made on the Tarm solo was the gasifing firebrick underneath. The e-burn has much thicker refractory. Perhaps the thick refractory bottom chamber will allow easier relighting after the fire has been out a bit? Would this boiler actually be better than others assuming no storage?

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  2. BrownianHeatingTech

    BrownianHeatingTech Minister of Fire

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    I'm pretty sold on them, as a two-chamber gasifier. It's a very well-built unit. If you can find one in operation, it's worth a look.

    I still have a soft spot for the Seton-type gasifiers, as well, but I'm not holding my breath on finding a reputable company that will be getting UL listing on them...

    Joe
  3. Nofossil

    Nofossil Moderator Emeritus

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    A salesman told my neighbor that the Econoburn is more efficient with green wood. It's like the days of the stereotype used car salesmen all over again.
  4. BrownianHeatingTech

    BrownianHeatingTech Minister of Fire

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    Okay, that sounds like either a rookie salesman or a misunderstanding.

    They should tell the customer that it is more efficient with wood that isn't too dry. Dead dry wood won't run well - you want a minimum moisture content (typically around 20%) in order to give optimum performance.

    Having to evaporate the moisture eats some energy, but it helps to moderate the burn. It's similar to octane in gasoline... the higher the octane, the less power the gasoline has, but the higher octane allows it to be run in a higher-performance engine without detonating so, when used in the right engine, it causes a net increase in power - it assists the engine in producing more extra power than it eats up by being an inhibitor.

    Wood "greener" than 20% MC is important to efficient operation of most gasifiers...

    I'm hoping that's what was actually meant - that the wood does not need to be dried for years.

    Joe
  5. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    The "no need for storage" part sounds exactly how everyone sold these boilers for the first 10 years. They work fine, until the boiler rots out prematurely because of the acids formed by the lower combustion cycles. Even a properly constructed and welded boiler can have it's life cut in 1/2 or worse, but you don't end up knowing until you have thousands or units in the field for a decade.

    There is less chance of this when the boiler is used very heavily and shut down in the shoulder season.
  6. BrownianHeatingTech

    BrownianHeatingTech Minister of Fire

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    None of them need storage. It's just a really good idea. Tarm is still selling theirs as "thermal storage not required," and so are most (all?) others (other than Garn, but thermal storage is not an optional thing with them).

    Econoburn does have built-in cold-return protection in its control system, rather than relying on a termovar.

    Joe
  7. ISeeDeadBTUs

    ISeeDeadBTUs Guest

    Well, you tech guys can clear this up for me, probably, but . . .

    I THINK it's correct to say that BTU's are used converting the liquid water into a vapor. If the moisture 'moderates' the burn, that means that the BTU's are being lost during idle with the 'too dry' wood. In theory, it seems to me that if that were the case, storage would minimize the idle time losses. The 'problem' comes from the fact that you can't completly starve a fire during idle.

    Jimbo
  8. solarguy

    solarguy New Member

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    I would be very leary of anyone that tells you "green" wood is ok to burn in a gasification unit.
    The very nature of gasification relies on the wood releasing carbon monoxide & hydrogen gases,
    these gases are what create the gasification process in the first place. That's why wood to dry or to green doesn't work well in these type of units.
  9. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    I run from anyone who would claim to burn green wood at relatively reasonable efficiency also. Does not reflect on the unit if only a sales person, but if the manufacturers brochure makes such claims I would have concern.

    Of course, "green" is not defined, but I would say that anything over about 25-27% is starting to waste a lot of heat.
  10. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    As someone concerned primarily with smoke, I'd say that while you can burn not-quite-dry wood smoke-free in an EKO if you have a good fire going, there's no way you're going to get a good fire going with wood that is not less than 20% dry.
  11. smangold

    smangold Member

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    To be fair the salesmen stated it handled slightly wetter wood better than Tarm. He claimed wood seasoned a full year was desirable.
  12. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    Assuming that there actually has been some engineering in the making of these gasification boilers, my head tells me that these boilers have been designed on the assumption that most users have firewood seasoned outdoors about one year, which probably ends up with MC around 20-30%, and the boilers are designed to operate efficiently under these conditions.

    It is a little surprising that these boilers do as well as they do with such variable quality and MC in their fuel. No oil or gas burner has to operate under such variable conditions. I suspect that a gasification boiler could be designed to operate most efficiently with 10% MC, or 40% MC, or whatever.

    While in absolute terms one brand may be a little more efficient than another at a particular % MC, it seems kind of irrelevant, because I doubt any normal users have precise control over the MC of their wood anyway. So, if your wood is a little drier this year, then Brand X is more efficient, and if it is a little wetter next year, than Brand Y is more efficient.

    All I know is that I am obtaining efficiencies burning wood in my gasification boiler far in excess of what I imagined, and my wood is variable in quality and MC.
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