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The best tree for the energy cycle?

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by wg_bent, Apr 23, 2006.

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  1. wg_bent

    wg_bent Minister of Fire

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    O.k. maybe I'm digging here, but as I was outside in the rain splitting a few logs, it dawned on me that some trees have a better ability to produce energy than others in a given timeframe. Not "which wood contains the most energy, but which trees grow the quickest that have the most energy content. So, I was splitting sumac, which is essentially a huge weed, and probably has about as much energy content as pine, but I'm sure grows roughly twice as fast, so Sumac produces consumable energy twice as fast. So which tree (wood) has the best energy cycle?

    Soft maples seem to grow pretty fast. if you think about it, Oaks aren't all that bad and have very high energy content when burned. Hickory has great energy content but take forever to grow, so would have s lower energy cycle rating. Anyone care to kick this around a bit?

    What this could be relevant for is which trees would be best used for farm raising for the production of pellets or compressed log/bricks.

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  2. berlin

    berlin New Member

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    I would guess black locust, they grow reletively fast and have the same heat content as hickory, plus they are good for other plants around them as the grow because they fix nitrogen into the soil.
  3. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Kinda what I was thinking. The cycle consists of the time between when they say "Sure, you can have it." and when it is split and stacked.
  4. snowfreak

    snowfreak New Member

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    Around my area poplar and white pine grow rather quickly but of course have crappy btu ratings. Of course both are my primary camp fire wood. White pine when well seasoned sounds like a blow torch when you elevate those steel semi tire rims off the ground at the camp grounds.
  5. Turner-n-Burner

    Turner-n-Burner New Member

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    Some types of bamboo can grow as much as 3 feet per day and can top out at 100 feet tall. It's in the grass family but I believe it can be as dense as maple, so I would presume the energy density would be pretty high.

    Would be interesting to find out how much land it would take to grow your own firewood via something like this...



    -Dan
  6. wg_bent

    wg_bent Minister of Fire

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    Yes, so why isn't that stuff used to make compressed logs? Why is wood used vs a grass?
  7. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    In parts of Asia bamboo is used for fuel, often as characoal briquettes. It's a pretty remarkable plant. I burned some bamboo flooring scraps once. They burned just fine and gave off a lot of heat.
  8. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    One does consider our enviorment don't we? Introducing other species must be considered, as the effect they have could be adverse. Gypsy moths were introduced as a possible silk worm supplement now the defoliate our trees. I would think planting trees should be native to your enviorment. I could be way off base here but I think one should consider all ramifications of what they are doing. There are times when we solve one problem but create a whole set of different issues not factored in
  9. Turner-n-Burner

    Turner-n-Burner New Member

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    I agree - at the commecial level - I was speaking of just a personal woodlot. I think it would be pretty cool to plant a half acre of bamboo and have a self sustaining woodlot where I otherwise would be just mowing the grass... ( no clue if half acre would really do it)

    On the commercial side though, have you seen what bamboo cutting boards, and flooring products are selling for? It could be made to pay, and the scraps could be sold as firewood...

    Though Don's point must certainly be taken into consideration. Wouldn't want it running wild. it is being sold as a landscape and garden product already, so I would hope that it is reasonably controllable.

    -Dan
  10. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    I agree on locust, although--hey Warren--I cut down a dead elm in my yard a couple of weeks ago and I swear it had 1-inch growth rings (i.e., 2 inches in diameter a year). So fast-growing elm has got to rank right up there.

    On bamboo: I'm sure it's great fuel, but don't try burning it intact. Those sections (cells?) explode like you wouldn't believe when they get hot enough.
  11. wg_bent

    wg_bent Minister of Fire

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    But renewable implies that the source is farmed, thus is Bamboo were farmed and processed a log like product of some sort, then at some level it is a viable solution. Maybe costly though I agree.
  12. wg_bent

    wg_bent Minister of Fire

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    Explode? Cool.
  13. jabush

    jabush Feeling the Heat

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    Locust also puts out lots of suckers when cut to the ground. As the suckers get to the 2-5" range you can cut them and start the process over (Coppice). I believe with this method you need to have trees less than 10 years old as they tend to lose thier ability to resprout as they age. Good for fuelwood production as well as stuff like the fence posts you mention.

    Oh.....Turner-N-Burner....if you were to plant a half acre of bamboo, you would spend the rest of your natural life controling it. Unless you brought in some giant pandas to eat it :)



    joel
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