In a never ending quest for alternative energy sources, perhaps it is time to consider biomass. I recently attended the Northeast Biomass Heating Expo. (www.nebiomassheat.com)
It was hosted at the Convention Center in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. It was a beautiful facility in a quaint, old upstate N.Y. setting. I have been interested in fuels that are considered biomass — these could include wood chips, or shavings any wood processing by-product, really. Garbage can also be sorted and burned cleanly for energy.
Pellets make it simple for the end user. The pellets look a lot like rabbit feed if you are familiar with livestock food. What is unique about pellets is the can be compressed from a very wide range of materials. Wood, both hard and soft are the main ingredient. Clever feed stock include olive and fruit pits, fast growth grass and trees such as willow. I overheard conversations where horse manure is being transformed into pellets.
For the consumer, pellet-fired appliances on display at the show ranged from small home pellet boilers and heaters to cook stoves, and large commercial sized equipment intended to heat school buildings. In some areas of Europe, large biomass boilers power district systems for entire villages.
The residential “pelleteer” benefits from a simple to use appliance, especially compared to cord wood burners. Pellet appliances can light off automatically and they can modulate their output by regulating to pellet feed. Needless to say, the European products on display were very well built and attractive enough to install in a living space. Small parlor boilers provide direct radiant heat, as well as a DHW heat exchanger option, or the ability to run a small hydronic loop. Some brands could be side wall vented to allow for retrofit installations.
Bulk delivery of pellets is already possible in Maine, Vermont and several other eastern areas; this allows the owner to buy a the best possible price. I know pellet mills are sprouting up across the U.S. to supply the fuel,so shipping costs are eliminated. Here is a list from biomassmagazine.com/plants/listplants/pellet/US/.
If you or you customer is looking for alternative fuel sources, consider pellet.
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