Wood/Pellet/Bio Boilers- Future Thinking

jebatty Posted By jebatty, May 23, 2008 at 11:26 AM

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  1. jebatty

    Minister of Fire 2.

    Jan 1, 2008
    Northern MN
    With fossil fuel prices likely headed only up in price, demand on local round wood increasing, and transportation costs also increasing, a multi-fuel gasification boiler makes increasing sense. Setting aside the combustion control aspects and engineering issues, competition in fuel choice is likely also to be of increasing importance, and multi-fuel helps to address this for the individual.

    Any boiler with metered fueling (pellet, corn, etc.) has the great advantage of not needing daily attention, if everything works. A round wood boiler has the current great advantage of the lowest fuel cost. Maybe this is too wild, but what might make an entrepreneurial adventure would be a "small" grinder/pellet mill, operating perhaps off the PTO of a tractor, to provide a ready supply of pellets for local markets from available round wood. This marries the sweet spots of low round wood price and low transportation cost.

    The economics could be impressive. A quick scan of pellet prices shows $155 low and $229 high per ton cost. This compares to red oak cords of seasoned round wood at $271 to $400 per cord. Aspen has about 60% of the heat value of oak per pound, so this also compares to $162 to $240 per cord.

    Obviously a lot more is involved, but just a thought.
  2. Rick Stanley

    Rick Stanley
    Feeling the Heat 2.

    Dec 31, 2007
    Southern ME
  3. JustWood

    Minister of Fire 2.

    Aug 14, 2007
    Arrow Bridge,NY
    The cost of a machine like you describe even on a small scale would blow your mind. A commercial whole tree chipping operation will set you back $1-2 million on the smaller side and a pellet operation like those producing now well into the $10's of millions ! Even on a small scale the cost would be staggering.

    What I would like to see is more boilers that are capable of burning chips like they have in Europe.
  4. Nofossil

    Moderator Emeritus 2.

    Oct 4, 2007
    Addison County, Vermont
    The EKO burns chips happily, but they need to be dry. I don't know how to efficiently handle, dry, and store wood chips. I'd love to chip up all the branches and brush that I have - many cords worth at this point.
  5. Willman

    Minister of Fire 2.

    Jan 15, 2008
    Sabattus Maine
    You got that right Jim AFAIC.I am awaiting more information on the Froling boiler. Can burn pellets as well as roundwood. I would use the pellets this year then switch to rounds next as my wood was just purchased end of April. I will buy another load next year to stay a year ahead for proper MC. Then when I can't cut and split anymore I can switch back to pellets. Thats the plan at this time but is subject to change.
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