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pellet burning in my future

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by Bob Rohr, Apr 21, 2013.

  1. Bob Rohr

    Bob Rohr Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2008
    Messages:
    666
    Loc:
    SW Missouri
    While I am still willing and able to heat with cord wood, I do see a day when burning pellets may be a better option.

    I have been traveling to Biomass and heating Expos over the past several monts, I've found some exciting products and fuel sources.

    Most of the high tech pellet burning equipment comes from Austria. The products displayed at the ISH Expo in Germany this year were quite incrediably engineered.

    Dual fuel, cord wood pellet burners are becoming more common. Solafocus GmbH of Austria has a boiler that can self light either cordwood or pellets.

    OkoFEN Heiztechnik of Germany had a condensing pellet boiler.n similar to condensing, furnaces or boilers, a secondary HX squeezes an additional 10- 15% energy from the flue gas. Flue gas temperatures in a common mod-con boiler run just above the water temperature the boiler produces.

    Controls were touch screen on some products, lambda sensors, ODR and wifi control capability on many others. A few boilers actually generated electricity on-board with a small sterling engine. Keeps the boiler and pump running through power outages :)

    At the NorthEast Biomass Heating Expo in NY, I meet up with Marc from Hydro-Heat. He had some wood gasification products on display, including a product for passive homes. This insulated stove puts about 70% of its output into the water jacket surrounding it, 30% as radiant heat to the space. He had a great looking stainless wood fired cook stove on display also.

    Livestock manure as a fuel source ! Between turkeys, chickens, hogs and cattle we produce, or they produce, 2.7 trillion lbs per year of manure per year. Pellets are being squeezed from the manure, as well as many other wood and grass byproducts. Most of the pellet production in the US is shipped overseas. Companies from the UK and Germany are setting up large scale pellet plants in the US, with export in mind.

    Here are some links and pictures.

    www.pelletpros.com/id75.html

    Attached Files:

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  2. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    Loc:
    Northern MN
    The innovation, efficiency gains, and increasing ease of operation all are attractive. Pellets are a viable, proven fuel source. The mechanics and control/electronics to make them work as dependably as fossil fuel heating appliances still seem to make them fall a little short for those who need or desire hands-free operation. Cost also is high, as compared to fossil fuel appliances, but in large measure because fossil fuel devices do not include the external costs to the atmosphere, environment, and waters through addition of carbon to our bio-sphere and emission of other pollutants, as well as the external costs related to extraction, refinement and transportation of the fossil fuels. I suspect that if these external costs were priced into the product, biomass appliances would end up being less expensive. Instead we bear these costs in continuing degradation of our planet, our health, and the health of all other living things.

    I too have thought about a future time when harvesting stove wood, cutting, splitting, stacking, etc. would become a burden. Yet where I live round wood is and will remain abundant and relatively inexpensive as compared to all alternatives. And even if I have to buy cut/split/seasoned/stacked stove wood, the cost remains much less that the alternatives. I hope long after I can't do these things I still can move wood the short distance needed to load my Tarm. And when I cannot, there still remains the floating ice pack on the lake which offers a seductive ride to that future place to which we all must journey. C'est la vie!
    Chris Hoskin and KenLockett like this.
  3. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    Loc:
    Nova Scotia
    It has been to me (and still is very much so) very frustrating in seeing the complete lack of progress on this kind of stuff on this side of the Atlantic. Manufacturers are still working in the dark ages (at least around me) in wood/biomass burning tech. And even distribution/retail is woefully ignorant on what is out there no matter where it is made. This continent is so resource rich, and at the same time wastes so much of it, that it is rather sickening. I guess that is also likely why the hotbed of hi-tech burning is where it is - their resources are becoming increasingly limited. Necessity becoming the motherhood?

    It is encouraging to read of this stuff progressing somewhere at least. Bring it on I say - and fast!
  4. fuelfarmer

    fuelfarmer Burning Hunk

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2010
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    Loc:
    VA
    At this time pellets seem to have some of the same drawbacks as other store bought fuels. The cost to make a pellet from free biomass is over $40 per ton just in wear parts and energy. And when push comes to shove you are still over the same barrel as any other fuel that someone else is processing.

    Now onto my soap box. Wood chips could have some of the same problems, but it is easy to make wood chips at home from your own wood. It is also now easy to find wood chips at a very low cost. That could change if demand picked up. Then you just make your own.

    Yes most of the burning equipment in this country is primitive at best. That is slowly changing as energy prices go up. My limited experience has been that even if a manufacture has installed a PLC that could land the space shuttle and back it into a parking space, the controls are used for little more than an on off switch. The wood chip burning bio-burner I am now driving does not fit that last description.

    We also are now burning turkey litter to heat a barn. Animal waste to energy will be another thing that should gain some momentum soon. The times they are a changing..................
  5. Bob Rohr

    Bob Rohr Minister of Fire

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    Loc:
    SW Missouri

    Good observations and info. I'm balancing the pellet prices against the wide LP price swings. If and when I do switch from cordwood, electricity or LP are the two fuel sources. LP prices have gone from as low as $.65 a gallon, when I moved here 15 years ago, to almost $3.00 a few years back!

    So I would consider a water to water heat pump or pellets. I like the concept of turning waste product into fuel. I have visited a pellet mill in NY and I see the amount of energy required to dry, squeeze and bag pellets, for now the European market see the US pellets as a bargin, even with shipping factored in.
  6. arbutus

    arbutus Burning Hunk

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2007
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    228
    Loc:
    Michigan UP
    There was a pellet factory in the area that went belly up either before or at its time of opening.
    I was surprised at the natural gas service they needed to operate the plant. 7 psi, 10000 CFH!

    ETA - Those are nice looking heaters and appliances too!
  7. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    This is a copy/paste from a technical brochure published by a German manufacturer of chip boilers. Their particular boiler will burn about everything if set up to do so but it's interesting to note the drawbacks listed for each of the fuels below. Some that I have heard touted as being superb fuels (cherry pits for example) are actually harmful to the boiler.


    10. Special biomass:
    Straw:
    - Less recommended as it has strong slagging (due to low ash softening point of the material) and is chlorous. The chlorine can form acids if there is condensation in the boiler which destroy the boiler steel.
    - Should you still decided to burn it , leave it lying on the field for a while after harvesting so that the rain can wash away the chlorine a little.
    - The thickness is less than with wood chips. It is advantageous to mix straw with wood chips.
    - Triple volume necessary compared to wood chips.
    - Boiler power must be taken 30 % higher.
    Rapeseed:
    - Easy to burn .
    - The chlorine should be washed away by the rain after harvesting.
    - Thickness is less than with wood chips.
    - Triple volume necessary.
    - Boiler power must be taken 30 % higher.
    Miscanthus:
    - Can be burnt .
    - Slagging.
    - Greater volume necessary.
    - Boiler power must be taken 30 % higher.
    Sawdust/wood shavings:
    - Easy to burn .
    - Greater volume necessary.
    - Boiler power must be taken 30 % higher.
    Igniscum (similar to wood, high lignin content):
    - Can be burnt .
    - Ash softening point similarly as high as wood chips, meaning no slagging.
    - Greater volume necessary.
    - Boiler power must be taken 30 % higher.
    Corn cob:
    - Can be burnt.
    - Greater volume necessary.
    - possible strong slagging
    - Boiler power must be taken 30 % higher.
    Cherry pits:
    - Less recommended.
    - Hydrocyanic acid formation.
    - Boiler life cycle reduced.
    Grapevine wood chips:
    - Easy to burn.
    - Greater volume necessary.
    - Boiler power must be taken 30 % higher.
    18
    Pellets:
    - Easy to burn .
    - Greater thickness, therefore only 1/3 of the volume of woodchip necessary.
    (Careful with bad industrial pellets, e.g. which could be elongated with plastic, boiler life cycle
    is reduced).
    Attention: major changes to settings necessary when switching between wood chips and pellets!
    Order pellet equipment for pure pellet combustion!
    Grass cobs:
    - Possible without salt (roadworks), otherwise major boiler erosion
    - unpleasant smell
    Animal manure:
    - Only possible after treatment, otherwise very bad.
    - Boiler life cycle reduced.
    Mustard straw:
    - Relatively easy to burn.
    - Great volume necessary
    - Boiler power must be taken 30 % higher.
    Digestate (e.g. from biogas plants):
    - Can be burnt (AK).
    - Slagging.
    - Boiler life cycle reduced.
    - Boiler power must be taken 30 % higher.
    Olive stones:
    - Easy to burn
    - Clean burning
    - Little ash
    - High ash melting point (few or no cinders)
    Wood chips (G 50 / W 30 according to ÖNORM M7133) are the simplest and best fuel for the
    fully automatic operation of a wood chip combustion.
    If there is good fuel quality then a continuous, fully automatic operation without a great deal of
    maintenance is possible at any time.
  8. KenLockett

    KenLockett Member

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    Loc:
    Eastern Upstate NY
    Really cool stuff Bob!

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