Thursday, July 23, 2015

What Do We Know About the Carbon Neutrality of Wood Combustion?

CO2_Graphic

Some say that burning wood makes more carbon dioxide than burning coal. They've either got an agenda or lack the knowledge to make a more nuanced statement. It is a shock statement poorly applied to wood fuel for heating. Those who favor using wood fuel rebut that carbon dioxide output compared to coal is a largely factor of fuel moisture content. These discussions spiral into tedium quickly. In the real world many variables impact carbon calculations and the data can be manipulated for desired effect.

In the heating universe we should care little about such comparisons. Unfortunately, in our power-centric energy world, electricity policy often metastasizes to thermal policy, though power and thermal uses of wood fuel are very different. Carbon dioxide output by fuel weight is NOT the crux of the matter. The crux of the matter is how quickly wood is burned vs. how quickly it grows back.

If all of the carbon dioxide produced from burning wood is recaptured by growing trees there is a balanced, harmonious carbon cycle. That's the same old, irrefutable story.

"No!", say some. If a tree is burned, carbon dioxide is released quickly. It takes a long time for a tree to re-grow and sequester that earlier released carbon. That means that burning wood has delayed carbon benefits and our environment can't withstand delay.

We may never hear the end of these types of arguments.

What about sustainability? Huge tracts of forests are actively managed and harvested. Few tracts are untouched and left to become old growth. Austrians claim over 100 years of active and sustainable forest management and have one of the most robust wood heating industries in the world. However, I'm not convinced they've got sustainability figured out completely. If maintaining a stand of trees is sustainable, then maybe the Austrians have succeeded. Forest cover is increasing in Austria. Unfortunately, the forest is more than a stand of trees. And there is more to sustainability than carbon. What is truly sustainable involves detailed mapping of forest soils, understanding nutrient availability, and symbiotic ecologic relationships, among other factors that we don't fully understand. Consider that it has been less than a decade since we began to understand the importance of bacteria that inhabit our bodies. We often speak about sustainable forest management ensuring carbon neutrality, but we don't really know what is sustainable because we haven't been studying this topic long enough to know. Probably, forest management focused on carbon absorption through rapid growth is not actually sustainable given so many other factors that impact forest health.

It is also no small matter that well maintained forests in the developed world might need to pull more than their own weight when it comes to carbon. Huge tracts of forest in the developing world are being turned to field, or worse, desert. Do healthy forests need to add carbon at double time? How quickly will the forest health equation change as global air composition and temperatures change? Sustainability is not easy to define and carbon emission is a global topic.

There is big money in carbon neutrality- big tax credits, big rebates, big grants, and big private investment. Unfortunately, investments in the biomass heating industry hang in the balance waiting for determinations about carbon neutrality. In reality, carbon neutrality may be the least tangible and most divisive policy tool for the biomass heating industry to focus on.

Here's the rub as I see it: We place far too much emphasis on carbon neutrality. I understand the politics. Sometimes we say and do things to swing the pendulum, but we need to be honest with ourselves. There is a lot more to forest based energy than carbon.

While using best management practices, increasing the utilization of wood for heating fuel should be an important energy policy in forested northern regions where fuel is for practical purposes, just out the back door or just down the road. Most expenditures on wood fuel for heat stay in the regions where the wood is harvested. In rural areas, wealth retention is extremely important, as money easily flows out of regions that produce nothing. Of course, wood is almost always the least expensive fuel in rural areas. Profitable, properly managed forest harvests create disincentives for development, as managed forest harvests produce steady return on investment. Even a fundamental conservationist would rather see a working forest than no forest at all. Most working forests are also healthy forests.

Carbon neutrality is a handy lever for renewable energy decision makers, but for biomass thermal energy, carbon neutrality should not be a pass/fail criterion nor even a primary reason for deciding whether or not biomass thermal energy is worthy of investment. There are better reasons for feeling good about wood.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Lambda Controlled Wood Boilers

Lambda controlled combustion in wood burning boilers combines modern computer processing and control with the ancient use of wood as fuel.

The problem: A traditional problem with wood burning is the emission of unburned, yet energy rich gasses as smoke. Burning smoke enhances efficiency and decreases harmful emissions. If wood is heated and turned into charcoal without active flame, about ½ of the energy content in the wood will be released as smoke. The combustion of wood involves three phases- drying (evaporation of water), smoke production, and charcoal. All three phases are taking place to some degree simultaneously, however the bulk of a load of wood in a combustion chamber will generally be in one phase or another depending upon how long the wood has been exposed to high temperatures/fire. Combustion of wood smoke is only achieved at very high temperature and with proper combustion air mixing. Because wood is changing phases as it is heated/burned and because wood is an irregular fuel by shape, species, moisture content, age, etc. regulation of combustion air in order to optimize combustion and to minimize emissions of smoke is very difficult to maintain manually.

The solution: Wood gasification boilers typically burn wood in an upper (primary) combustion/wood storage area. This combustion zone is relatively low in temperature and is quite large. The primary combustion chamber is generally supplied by air at the base of the primary combustion chamber. Below the primary combustion chamber there is a secondary combustion zone generally consisting of a ceramic refractory chamber with injected combustion air. The secondary chamber is designed for high turbulence, high temperature and high residence time of the combustible gasses. A lambda control system automatically adjusts primary and secondary combustion air through independent air controls, optimizing combustion as the wood burns. The lambda control system monitors excess oxygen and the temperature of the exhaust, feeds this information to the processor, and adjusts air damper servo motors appropriately. Combustion air is adjusted to automatically match the composition of the wood fuel at any stage of combustion, and for any variation in the wood fuel. Harmful emissions are reduced and efficiency increases.

FHG Wood Boiler Features

Thursday, May 21, 2015

New T4 Wood Chip or Wood Pellet Boiler Brochure

Click the image below to check out our new 2-page brochure for the Fröling T4 wood chip and wood pellet boiler.

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Renewable Biomass Heating is Uniquely Powerful-Wood is a Solar Battery!

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One large maple tree stores more energy than a 2.5 KW PV array will produce in 1 year with New Hampshire sunshine. 50 maple trees could provide more power (thermal energy) than a 5 KW PV array supplies in 25 years (A 5 KW panel will offset all annual power used by a typical NH residence). Surprised? If the United States expressed heat in Kilowatt hours as is done in Europe, the capacity of U.S. renewable thermal generation would astonish most people. About 50 homes in my community of Lyme, NH recently added PV generation of about 250 KW as part of a community wide "Solarize" project, which was fantastic. What few realize is that my company alone added 250 KW with just 3 thermal projects in town during the same time period.

The flexibility and concentrated energy contained in biomass makes it a low hanging renewable energy source. For instance, a cord of wood (128 cubic feet) or a ton of wood pellets used in an efficient boiler will produce approximately 4500 KWH/year, whereas a 2.5 KW PV panel will, according to NREL, produce about 3275 KWH/year in NH. The power advantage is obvious. The flexibility of biomass heating is derived from its exceptional use of stored solar energy. Biomass thermal doesn’t require a south facing exposure or a cloud free day. Biomass is capable of producing thermal Kilowatts anytime because the energy released by a biomass boiler has been stored in advance by nature's living batteries- trees.

Consider all of the recent news about President Obama's battery initiative and Tesla's mega battery plant. People tend to get excited about gee whiz technology and the promise of jobs. Meanwhile, without any fanfare, biomass energy is being stored by nature's manufacturing plants (actual plants) without creating massive quantities of materials that will eventually become hazardous waste. Elon Musk’s battery plant is impressive, but batteries produced there will store a small fraction of energy compared to our forests. 

Forests are storing solar energy every day of the year, with zero harmful emissions and with plenty of beneficial emissions for FREE!  Wood harvests often result in 75% or more low grade wood, which is not turned into lumber. By using low grade wood as heating fuel, land owners earn more from their forests, encouraging proper forest management and conservation. Sustainable forestry creates zero net carbon emissions and at the tail end of the wood burning process, the ash from wood burning becomes a valuable fertilizer. One ton of wood ash (which is easily certified organic) contains 600 pounds of lime, 200 pounds of calcium, 75 pounds of potassium, and 20 pounds of magnesium.

The biomass thermal sector doesn't need to join or to be threatened by the renewable power revolution. We need people to understand that trees are a productive and natural way to harness solar power. Furthermore, biomass heating should be widely accepted as a valid, inexpensive, and highly flexible form of solar energy. What we do, provide massive quantities of renewable megawatts with sustainably managed forests is unassailable. It is solar energy. Current renewable energy technologies can play an important role in concert with each other. Renewable energy markets don't have to be and can’t be a contest for superiority. There isn’t enough renewable generation from any one source to meet all of our energy needs. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Now is the Best Time to Buy a New HS Tarm or Fröling Wood Boiler or Pellet Boiler

We are right in the middle of our Feeling Good about Wood Sale. We know Spring is finally here and it is getting hot outside, but this is the best time to purchase a wood gasification or fully automatic pellet boiler.

Feeling Good About Wood Webpage Image

Northeast Wood Boiler and Wood Pellet Boiler Rebate and Incentive Programs*

Plant in HandsWe have added a new page to our website listing rebate and incentive programs for wood and pellet boilers for both residential and commercial applications. Below is a copy from our site:

 


Residential Programs

State: New Hampshire
Incentive Name: Residential Bulk-Fed Wood-Pellet Central Boilers and Furnace Rebate Program
Boiler Type: Automatic Pellet Boiler
Incentive Type: Rebate Program
Incentive Amount: 30%
Maximum Incentive: $6,000
Program Link: http://www.puc.nh.gov/Sustainable%20Energy/RenewableEnergyRebates-WP.html
Eligibility Document: NH Pellet Rebate Application

State: Vermont
Incentive Name:
SSREIP Modern Wood Pellet Heating
Boiler Type: Automatic Pellet Boiler
Incentive Type
: Rebate Program
Incentive Amount
: 50%
Maximum Incentive:
$5,350
Program Link:
http://www.rerc-vt.org/incentives-program/modern-wood-pellet-heating
Eligibility Document: Modern Wood Pellet Heating Eligibility

State: Maine
Incentive Name: Home Energy Savings Program
Boiler Type: Automatic Pellet Boiler
Incentive Type: Rebate Program
Incentive Amount: 33%
Maximum Incentive: $5,000
Program Link: http://www.efficiencymaine.com/renewable-energy/wood-and-pellet-heating/
Eligibility Document: Efficiency Maine Pellet Boiler Criteria

State: Massachusetts
Incentive Name: MassCEC Residential Central Wood Pellet Heating
Boiler Type: Automatic Pellet Boiler
Incentive Type: Rebate Program
Incentive Amount: Boiler 45%, Thermal Storage 100%
Maximum Incentive: $12,000 ($10,000 boiler, $2,000 Thermal Storage)
Program Link: http://www.masscec.com/solicitations/residential-central-wood-pellet-heating
Eligibility Document: MA Residential Central Pellet Heating Program Manual

State: New York
Incentive Name: Renewable Heat NY
Boiler Type: Cordwood Boiler with Thermal Storage
Incentive Type: Rebate Program
Incentive Amount: 20%
Maximum Incentive: $4,000 (additional $2,000- $4,000 possible for recycling old outdoor or indoor wood, oil, gas boiler)
Program Link: http://www.nyserda.ny.gov/All-Programs/Programs/Renewable-Heat-NY/Advanced-Cordwood-Boiler
Eligibility Document: NYSERDA Program Manual

State: New York
Incentive Name: Renewable Heat NY
Boiler Type: Wood Pellet Boiler with Thermal Storage
Incentive Type: Rebate Program
Incentive Amount: 25%
Maximum Incentive: $20,000 (additional $2,000-$4000 possible for recycling old outdoor or indoor wood boiler)
Program Link: http://www.nyserda.ny.gov/All-Programs/Programs/Renewable-Heat-NY/Small-Pellet-Boiler
Eligibility Document: NYSERDA Program Manual

Commercial Programs

State: New Hampshire
Incentive Name: Commercial and Industrial Bulk Fuel-Fed Wood Pellet Central Heating Systems
Boiler Type: Pellet Boiler up to 2.5MM Btu/hr
Incentive Type: Rebate Program
Incentive Amount: 30%
Maximum Incentive: $50,000
Program Link: http://www.puc.state.nh.us/Sustainable%20Energy/RenewableEnergyRebates-CI-BFWP.html
Eligibility Document: NH Commercial Pellet Rebate Application

State: New Hampshire
Incentive Name: NH Renewable Portfolio Standard Thermal Renewable Energy Credits (T-RECS)
Boiler Type: Wood Pellet and Wood Chip Boilers
Incentive Type: Renewable Energy Certificates
Program Link: http://www.puc.state.nh.us/Sustainable%20Energy/Class%20I%20Thermal%20Renewable%20Energy.html
Eligibility/Application Documents: Class I Thermal Sources with Renewable Thermal Energy Capacity Greater than 150,000 Btu/hr
Class I Thermal Sources with Renewable Thermal Energy Capacity Less than 150,000 Btu/hr
Program Documents: Metering Protocols
T-REC Enterprise Fund-Intro Presentation
T-REC Enterprise Fund Diagram
T-REC Enterprise Fund One Page Summary

State: New York
Incentive Name: Renewable Heat New York
Boiler Type: Cordwood Boiler with Thermal Storage (Commercial Small)
Incentive Type: Rebate Program
Incentive Amount: 20%
Maximum Incentive: $4,000 (additional $2,000- $4,000 possible for recycling old outdoor or indoor wood, oil, gas boiler)
Program Link: http://www.nyserda.ny.gov/All-Programs/Programs/Renewable-Heat-NY/Advanced-Cordwood-Boiler
Eligibility: NYSERDA Program Manual

State: New York
Incentive Name: Renewable Heat New York
Boiler Type: Small Pellet Boiler with Thermal Storage (Less than 300MM Btu/hr)
Incentive Type: Rebate Program
Incentive Amount: 25%
Maximum Incentive: $20,000
Program Link: http://www.nyserda.ny.gov/All-Programs/Programs/Renewable-Heat-NY/Small-Pellet-Boiler
Eligibility: NYSERDA Program Manual

State: New York
Incentive Name: Renewable Heat New York
Boiler Type: Large Pellet Boiler with Thermal Storage (More than 300Mm Btu/hr)
Incentive Type: Rebate Program
Incentive Amount: 20%
Maximum Incentive: $100,000
Program Link: http://www.nyserda.ny.gov/All-Programs/Programs/Renewable-Heat-NY/Large-Commercial-Pellet-Boiler
Eligibility: NYSERDA Program Manual

State: New York
Incentive Name: Renewable Heat New York
Boiler Type: Tandem Pellet Boiler with Thermal Storage
Incentive Type: Rebate Program
Incentive Amount: 25%
Maximum Incentive: $150,000
Program Link: http://www.nyserda.ny.gov/All-Programs/Programs/Renewable-Heat-NY/Large-Commercial-Pellet-Boiler
Eligibility: NYSERDA Program Manual

* We have attempted to provide you with a synopsis of available incentive programs. Please accept our apologies for any errors or omissions.

The Benefits of Wood Ash from a Wood Boiler or Pellet Boiler

 Wood Pellet Boiler AshTarm Biomass® recently attended the third New Hampshire Boiler Operator's Workshop. The workshop was generously hosted by EMD Millipore in Jaffrey, NH and sponsored by the New Hampshire Wood Energy Council. About 50 people attended what proved to be a very interesting morning workshop.
We were particularly surprised and impressed by a presentation made by Shelagh Connelly, President of Resource Management, Inc. of Holderness, NH. Resource Management manages ash disposal for several large wood burning power plants and has made a practice of sampling, sorting and mixing ash as necessary to create a high value, resource rich soil amendment. Old Yankees have known for centuries that wood ash contains beneficial nutrients. Many rural home owners scatter wood ashes on their lawns or in their gardens for its fertilizing benefits. Larger wood burning systems, whether they burn wood chips or wood pellets also create ash, but at larger scales.
What happens when a site is burning 305,000 tons of whole tree wood chips in a year? What about a wood pellet boiler burning 80 tons of wood pellets in a year? How much ash is produced and can it also be used as a fertilizer? Are there any risks?
 Wood Pellet Ash CanWhole tree wood chips contain about 3% ash on average. Ash usually is predominantly noncombustible mineral. However different combustion processes yield different ash consistencies. For instance, older, inefficient boilers may produce ash with carbon content that is 60% of the "ash" by weight. Ash that originates directly at the primary combustion zone and falls into a collector is called bottom ash. This ash tends to be higher in carbon content and is generally courser than ash that is collected from the exhaust stream. Many boilers use cyclones, bag filters, or electrostatic precipitators to collect ash and fine particulates before they exit the exhaust stack. Ash resulting from these capture mechanisms is generally very fine and dusty and contains relatively low carbon content.
Small, high efficiency thermal boilers leave almost zero carbon in the ash. Pellet boilers typically use fuel that contains less than 1 % ash. Even the bottom ash from these boilers is almost carbon free. Wood pellet boilers burning 80 tons of premium wood pellet fuel each year will produce about 3/4 of a ton of ash, or enough to mostly fill a pickup truck bed.
Depending on what is in wood ash, the ash has different values. Ash that is high in carbon content is useful for mixing with manures and organic composts to add nutrients and to control odor. Ash that is more pure and contains primarily inorganic minerals is great for spreading on farm fields, but would not help with odor. One ton of wood ash contains approximately 600 pounds of lime, 200 pounds of calcium, 75 pounds of potassium, and 20 pounds of magnesium. The lime component tends to be faster acting that standard pulverized lime.
Some wood ash is contaminated with harmful materials, such as heavy metals, in excess of regulated safe levels. High contaminant levels generally stem from coated construction and demolition debris or from mixing of natural wood with other non-pure fuels. As one example, even contamination with commonly available molybdenum grease used in processing equipment can cause contamination levels of molybdenum in ash above acceptable levels.
Because the purity of ash is an important health consideration, and to learn what nutrients an individual ash stream contains, testing should always be performed prior to use. States regulate the use of wood ash, especially when commerce and/or large quantities are involved. It is advisable to check local regulations for wood ash and to think about how ash will be handled prior to making a biomass boiler purchasing decision.
Wood ash is commonly recognized as an organic fertilizer and has value. Often the best arrangements for disposing of moderate quantities of ash are made with local farmers. This is just another example of the local benefits of wood as a renewable fuel source.





Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Lyme Elementary School Open House with Two Fröling P4 Wood Pellet Boilers

It was a beautiful day for an open house. Below are some pictures and write-up of the event.
 Scott Nichols during the presentation
The New Hampshire Wood Energy Council (NHWEC), Tarm Biomass, Lyme Green Heat, Froling Energy, DCM Logic, and the Lyme School hosted a wood pellet boiler open house on Monday May 4th, 2015. Enjoying glorious spring weather, about 20 people gathered to learn about how the two Fröling P4 100 automatic wood pellet boilers are installed and operating. Charlie Niebling of NHWEC opened the day describing opportunities for biomass heating. Lyme School Principal Jeff Valence described how the boilers have performed much better than the old oil boilers. Scott Nichols, owner of Tarm Biomass described how the entire project was conceived, installed, and operated in its first season. Morton Bailey, owner of Lyme Green Heat talked about his fuel delivery company, its growth, and the pleasure he feels delivering wood pellets to his community's school.
The pellet boilers were added during a major renovation and a 10,000 square foot building addition at Lyme Elementary School during the summer of 2014. Two twenty year old #2 oil boilers with outputs totaling 2,136,000 Btu/hr. were replaced by two 350,000 Btu/hr. wood pellet boilers. A more than redundant propane boiler was added for backup and fuel hedging purposes. Wood pellet fuel is stored in a 25 ton agricultural silo outside the boiler room. The silo is fitted with a 4" pneumatic delivery pipe and a 60 degree base for reliable "full flow" pellet delivery. The pellets are then conveyed underground pneumatically to the boilers, which come with the ingenious vacuum fuel delivery system standard.
Pellet boiler sizing was carefully based on actual building load at during various conditions (Bin analysis). It was found that during 1/2 of days requiring heating, only one pellet boiler was required to carry the load. Two pellet boilers could carry the building load to design temperature, which is about -10 degrees Fahrenheit. Together with a 500 gallon buffer tank, the boilers react in lead and lag function to match space heat and domestic hot water requirements.
It was important for the pellet boilers to be as clean burning as possible given that school populations are sensitive communities with regard to air quality. The P4 boilers with lambda control and automatic cleaning have been found to emit less than .03 lbs/MM Btu, which is extremely clean. With cleanliness comes efficiency and greater fuel savings. The school anticipated saving about $25,000/year in fuel costs using locally produced, bulk delivered wood pellets. Even with large decreases in conventional fuel costs for 2015, the school anticipates saving $10,000 in fuel costs using wood pellets this year.
The pellet boilers displace the equivalent of about 9,000 gallons of fuel oil per year, which amounts to 88 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. About 80 tons of wood pellet fuel, made in New Hampshire at New England Wood Pellet replace the oil. The result is that about $25,000 more is retained in the local NH economy each year. The school enjoys stable fuel pricing and great service from monitored, modern boilers. As an added bonus, the school is in the process of registering to produce thermal renewable energy credits or RECs. Once operational with its energy meter, the school intends to begin selling RECs on the open market, which should create an income stream of approximately $5,000 per year.
Lyme Elementary School Wood Pellet Boiler External SiloMorty Bailey Speaking about pellets.Charlie Niebling IntroScott Nichols talking about the project.Tarm Biomass and Wood Energy Council tables. Wood Pellt Boiler SiloTwo Fröling P4 Wood Pellet Boilers




Friday, March 6, 2015

New Fröling Connect Update Coming Soon

There will be an update to the Fröling Connect Touch Screen Interface on March, 17. The new update (Version 2) will have an improved interface, easier email set-up for troubleshooting, and more functions for service technicians.

If you currently own a Fröling P4 or FHG without the touchscreen interface you are able to update to the new screen. Please give us a call at 1-800-782-9927 for more information.

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Froling_Connect_Sale_Sheet

Hanover HomeLife Expo

leverone field house exterior image jan 23 007 (2)

Come visit us at the Hanover HomeLife Expo, March 20th thru March 22. It is now in its 37th year and will be at the Leverone Field House at Dartmouth College. We will be located at booth #D 06. We would love to chat with you on how you could make a difference with your heating bill by installing a highly advanced wood, pellet, or commercial chip boiler.

Hanover_Home_Show_2015