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Fine Tuning BioMass

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by Tennman, Dec 15, 2011.

  1. Tennman

    Tennman Minister of Fire

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    My hope is this thread will become a mini BioMass users group. The recent posts about BioMass owners here getting blue flames really prompted my desire to start this because I not there yet. Although our boiler shares many of the generic gasser functions, primary and secondary adjustments are specific to the design. Hopefully we can collectively learn how to optimally operate and fix these boilers.

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  2. Tennman

    Tennman Minister of Fire

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    From Woodsmaster:

    Do you have air adjustments for primary and secodary air? If so try opening the secondary air more and not just a tiny bit ,a lot.
    I run my biomass almost a year before I figured out I didn’t have the secodary air open enough for my wood. I had trouble with
    smoke sometimes and sometimes had trouble keeping gasifacation. I had tried adjusting the air before and adjusted a tiny bit at a time with no luck so I pretty much kept them where they were when I got it. One day I opened the secondary air up a lot and
    havn’t had and trouble with smoke since. I do get some steam but no smoke. I also gained about 30 degrees on my stack temp due to the hotter fire. Somthing to try If you havn’t allready.
  3. Tennman

    Tennman Minister of Fire

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    From q-bull:
    I just started my 2nd yr with the Biomas 40 & last weekend found the secret for “Blue Flame†that seems to be working for me.
    I always seemed to struggle with not enough chimney draft, (probably due to proximity of second story addition,) so I have hung an auxilliary blower motor onto the front of middle door, (removed triangular adjustment plate,) and now run this whenever my draft fan runs. I do switch it off when opening the door while loading or to fix bridging or blow outs. I am typically running both fans at 80% and even trying to use up some punky wood I now have the “Blue Flame†and 190-193 degree output. (I’ve not tried to go higher yet until I am more assured of adequate expansion capacity.) The aux. blower is small squirl cage type, 220v that I am running on 110v so it really does put out much, just what I needed though.
  4. Tennman

    Tennman Minister of Fire

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    Tennman:

    This I posted in a discussion regarding smoke out the stack. My comments do not imply I've got this thing tuned right, but that I learned, which is counterintuitive, cranking the fan way up to 100% helped short term to give me a hot fire, but I was quickly blowing right thru to the nozzle.

    I agree with others that your night time exhaust looks like mine did last nite, mostly steam which given the state of your wood shouldn’t surprise you. I’m fortunate that I have that little window to tell me the health of the burn when the fan is on. The other sign on the state of the burn is learning to read the exhaust color. Even in the midst of steam, I can tell if there is a faint blue color. That immediately tells me there is an open path thru the coal bed. On my gasser it doesn’t take much of a clear opening into the lower chamber to allow unburnt particles to sneak thru. For me the revelation was when I dramatically cut back on the fan and reduced pressure in the upper chamber. As soon as an open path is created to the lower chamber the pressurized uppper chamber air takes the path of least resistance and very rapidly blows a bigger hole, leading to more smoke, less energy, etc, downward spiral. This year like my first year you are in a Catch 22, since your wood is not seasoned you need to keep the fire hot to burn wet wood which increases the likelyhood of bridging or blow holes. For me last year it was a balancing act to reduce upper chamber pressure (that’s really what we’re doing by tinkering with vents and fan rpms) to the point you’re wet wood is happy. At the moment with the nicely seasoned wood I have my fan at the lowest setting (50%) which tells me I need to close off a vent somewhere so I have bandwidth to electronically adjust my fan. Now that I’m maybe a Sophomore at Boiler University I need to re-read the sticky about tuning the EKO because some of the finer points may start to make sense to me. Learning how to place the wood and the sizes of the splits and whether they go on top or bottom all are part of the art of learning your system. But my 2 cents is to play with reducing upper chamber pressure to delay the creation of blow holes. “Blow holes†is my term. One of the “Seniors†here may have a better name for it. Can ya wiggle yer toes? Merry Christmas, I gotta go order a replacement backflow preventer. Probably ought to do some work too.
  5. Tennman

    Tennman Minister of Fire

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    Ok guys, I've kicked it off. Tonight I'll measure my openings for the 60 and we can start to compare notes. I definitely don't presume my settings are optimal, just better than I've ever had. Might even figure out how to post images.... maybe.

    And, BTW, I certainly hope anyone feels free to provide input. I should have stated that in the first post. Most of what I've learned is from Heaterman and Taxi. So we'll see if this catches on like the "Tuning the EKO" sticky. Although I know there's lots more EKO owners here. Let the games begin.
  6. Glad you started this thread. I'll post some pics for reference. These pics are of the settings as they came from the factory.

    Attached Files:

  7. Tennman

    Tennman Minister of Fire

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    SO q-bull what I'm currently doing running my fan at 50% to extend reload time, seems opposite to what you're doing essentially supercharging the upper chamber with another fan. I know you have a 40 vs my 60, but you're getting a blue flame and mine is mostly white to orange when it's going good. So you're getting quite a hotter flame.
  8. Those settings worked ok for me. I found that the upper fire was smoldering and was having some visible smoke out the chimney.

    I have since opened up the primaries to about half open and increased the secondary to 1/3 open, with the fans set at 80% and the front fan shutter barely open.

    I'm only in the second week of burning. So still playing around with it, but these settings seem to be working with the pine wood I am currently using. The flame out of the nozzles is fuller and more steady, but not roaring -- unless I crack open the upper door.

    With all six zones calling for heat it will maintain 190 on the controller.
  9. jhunter19

    jhunter19 Member

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    I have a brand spankin new 40 combo unit. I can tweak the settings around and get an orange/yellow flame but never anything close to blue. I have a hard time keeping a 145 deg temp, it goes up to there, the pump kicks in and then quicly cools to around 132. then about 5 mins later it gets back up to 145 to start the process all over again. My wood is dry 15-20% (I have a meter). I just do not think I am getting anywhere near full heat out of this thing. I have 500 gals of storage and the temp there has never been over 150, even when the house is not calling for heat. It has been pretty mild here in Upstate NY.
  10. That was happening to me when the system was cold -- took forever to get heat into the distribution system. I found it worked better if I set the pump to come on at 150 with a hysteresis setting of 10. That way there wasn't any cycling of the pump on and off. And the danfoss bypass could slowly allow hot water into the distribution system without cooling the boiler down too much.
  11. taxidermist

    taxidermist Minister of Fire

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    Mike,
    Just looking at the settings in the pic you should open the fan shutter 100% then just use the fan setting speeds to adjust the rest (hence the lazy flame you are seeing)

    Like you figured out the primary is set too small open to about half.

    That should get you started.
    you can use the chart in the eko to get it close. http://www.newhorizoncorp.com/PDF/ekomanual.pdf

    Just remember this is for the eko so under 60 it says 50% on fan opening......well we have 2 fans so if you run 1 fan open it 100% like the eko 40 it only has 1 fan.
    Rob

    Rob
  12. I have a Biomass 60 -- two fans.
    So you are saying set the front fan shutter to 50%? And then lower the fan output by the controller?

    Currently I have the front shutter almost closed and the fan power at 80%
    Thanks

    EDIT
    Was just looking at the link you provided and realize the fan set up is different. The biomass has one fan on the front and one on the back, I assume to create a negative draft. The fan on the front shuts off when the upper door opens. The fan on the back has no shutter and runs whenever the boiler is trying to raise the water temp. Hope that makes sense.
  13. taxidermist

    taxidermist Minister of Fire

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  14. taxidermist

    taxidermist Minister of Fire

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    Mike the fan on front should be open 100% The fan on the back should turn on when the door is open only. This sucks the smoke out while loading......well thats what it should do LOL. If I remember from the bio 60 i worked on if you hit stop then opened the door the draft fan kicked on. The one on the front pressurizes the fire box so if your primaries are closed down and your fan shutter it closed down you will get a lazy flame in the lower chamber. The secondaries puts air into the nozzles to mix with the hot gases to create the right mix of air and fuel to ignite.

    Too rich(too much smoke) no ignite

    Too lean (not enough fuel... no coals) no ignite


    Rob
  15. On mine the rear fan starts the moment I hit start and does not shut off unless the boiler is to temp or it is out of fuel.
    The front fan runs at the same times, but if you open the door it shuts off.
  16. Here are my current settings. I just opened the fan shutter all the way. Fan power at 80%

    The boiler was coming up to temp and stepping the fans down before I could get a good pic of the flame -- it was stronger.

    My problem has been maintaining a strong secondary burn -- seem to have to stir the upper chamber too much (and create clouds of smoke in the house). The fire in the the upper chamber often is just smoldering. Though I am burning pine right now - when I tried hardwood it seemed better.


    Maybe opening up the fan shutter will help?

    Attached Files:

  17. taxidermist

    taxidermist Minister of Fire

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    Yeah thats right! I could not remember for sure......we were talking about how it should turn on only when you open the door but it turns on when you hit start. Anyways try changing your settings to 100% fan opening and 100% fan speed. Then start tweaking as you go. I turn my fan speed down to 50 or 60% when I have a deep bed of coals. But I am always messing with mine. My wife says "cant you leave it alone and set it and forget it" LOL

    Rob
  18. q-bull

    q-bull Member

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    I think I'm just making up for a lack of natural draft from my chimney. I live on a hill with spurts of very windy conditions so I wanted to avoid going any higher with the chimney. Last year I had to open the upper door often to get a really strong burn, (starved for air?) Essentially trying to make a 60 out of my 40 with the aux fan.
    Still have a steep learning curve to learn how to adapt to the changing conditions, (wood - barometric pressure - outside temp and now storage to keep charged.) Guess you could say we're having some fun now!

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  19. woodsmaster

    woodsmaster Minister of Fire

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    Here's where i've got my air set at seems to work very good. Only smokes when there is bridging. Do get steam out the chim. sometimes. When I build a fire I put some kindling in and load it to the top before lighting. This the only way Iv'e found to load without getting smoke spillage, it works great. I let it burn for about 5 - 10 min. with the bypass open and the uper door cracked open a little bit then when it's burning good close the door and pull the lever out. The primary is open 1/2 inch. Date on pictures is
    wrong.

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  20. woodsmaster

    woodsmaster Minister of Fire

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    Here's more

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  21. dpsfireman

    dpsfireman Member

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    I have found that I can just about eliminate bridging by picking and choosing the size and shape of the pieces of wood that go into the bottom of the loading chamber. I start by putting 2 or 3 short (length of the nozzle or so) round pieces about 1" diameter or so right over the nozzle and then a couple larger pieces on each side forming a cradle. Then I put paper and kindling in the cradle and start the fire. Once it's going enough I put more small round pieces on top of the fire and let it go for a little while before loading it up. For the final loading I still try and put the smaller round pieces in the middle near the bottom and stack the larger irregular pieces on top.

    I think this works because the round pieces have less of a tendency of getting caught on other pieces and allows a good bed of coals to develop before the big irregular stuff starts to burn. Also, when I initially start the fire it seems to work best to have both doors opened a bit. This causes a flow up through the nozzle and gets the fire going quickly. Once it is somewhat established I'll shut the bottom door which causes some flow down through the nozzle, warming it up and starting the pieces of wood that were under the paper burning down near the nozzle.

    At this point I have learned (the hard way) to close the door and the bypass to test and see if gassification starts. If it does then I finish loading the chamber and I'm done.

    Sounds like it takes a long time but start to finish it's 10 minutes or so. I get a good flame in the bottom almost immediately, yellow at first and then changing to blue after a little while.

    BTW, I have a Biomass 25 and burn hardwood that has been seasoned for 2 years. One more thing seems to help. Taking the advice I found here I set the circulator turn on temperature to the highest setting which seems to help gassification along.
  22. Tennman

    Tennman Minister of Fire

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    Woodmaster, Short on time, but hope to post pics later. My settings are giving me the best performance I've ever had and are far more closed than what I'm seeing or what Taxi is recommending. Primary opening about 3/8" and secondary 3/16". Fan opening very small and I'm running at 50%. But my burns are lasting longer than ever and usually wake up with a good coal bed. I still don't have storage and I really love having a bed of coals in the morning. Hopefully I'll get time to learn about posting pics later. But what's working well for me seems to be far more restrictive than what others are using. This is my goal to generate a better understanding how to tune these things. Although my settings are working I have no idea if it is close to the best. So welcome all comments.
  23. taxidermist

    taxidermist Minister of Fire

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    Larry,

    With no storage you are looking for just enough flame in lower chamber to ignite the smoke. You are looking for long drawn out heat just like a OWB

    With storage we are looking for running full out hot short fires and storing the BTU's

    This takes more air to get the max results. Kinda like a coal forge....kinda lays there and glows until you put the air to it! LOL

    Rob
  24. woodsmaster

    woodsmaster Minister of Fire

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    Before I opened my secodary air to where it is It took much longer for me to achive gasifacation on start ups and some days I had trouble keeping it gassing. Now It works much better, I never have trouble keeping gasifacation. On start ups it's gassifing within 10 min. When the boiler gets hot I get some blue flame in the bottom chamber and the refractory glows redish orange.
    I've been running the fan at 70%

    Have you cleand the tubes on the back of your boiler? how much of a chore is it to take the turbulators out and put back in ?
  25. woodsmaster

    woodsmaster Minister of Fire

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    Oh and the shutter on the fan don't seem to make much difference in performance to me.

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