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How To Buy A Quality Pellet Stove Or Boiler This

Feb 28, 2022

Bidragon provide an online consultation service with over 5 years experience in the pellet industry. Bidragon have experience in the manufacture of pellets and pellet combustion. The Wood Pellet Production Guide and Wood Pellet Stove and Boiler Guide are the two leading online guides on producing and burning pellets. All Bidragon guide customers receive access to a one­on­one consultation service for help with purchasing equipment for making or burning pellets.

Introduction In To Wood PelletsAnd Biomass Pellets

Over the last decade there have been two major factors, which have been driving the growth ofthe pellet fuel market. The first is consistent rise in the cost of fossil fuels and price instability, and thesecond is the increased attention of the effects of using fossil fuels such as oil and gas on theenvironment. Other factors, which support the case for pellets is they are a fuel that can be producedlocally, from local wood and biomass materials. Pellet production and distribution can produce anaffordable fuel,creating local jobs while keeping the fuels carbon footprint to a minimum.

But Why Pellets Instead of Just Logs?

One question that many people ask is why have

pellets instead of just burning logs? Well, there

are many reasons, but firstly logs only come from

trees, which in general, grow very slowly. Pellets

can be made from practically any biomass

material including straws, grasses, energy crops

etc. For example hemp is set to be a biomass fuel

leader, from seed to harvest only takes 3 months, and hemp pellet have very similar combustion

results to most wood pellets. The other main reasons for pellets over logs are that pellets burn much

more efficiently, this means pellets produce less ash, less smoke and more heat. Also pellets have a

uniform size, shape, density and moisture content. These consistent qualities make it possible to

design highly automated combustion systems such as modern wood pellet stoves and boilers.

ButAren’t Pellets Much More Expensive Than Logs?

It’s true on a per weight basis, for example one ton of wood logs compared to one ton of wood pellets,logs are cheaper. However, you have to look at the details to do an accurate cost comparison. Forexample wood pellets always have moisture content below 10%, and in many cases it is lower than thisaround the 5-8% mark. You can be confident of this fact, as its impossible for a pellet to have a highdensity and smooth surface with higher moisture content. However, wood logs are often sold withpractically no drying taking place, as a note a seasoned log takes about two years to dry and eventhen you are still looking at a moisture content of minimum 25%, however these logs are moreexpensive. The logs that many consumers compare the price of to pellets have moisture content ofbetween 40-50%. So these cheap logs are almost half water, and as we all know water doesn’t burnvery well, and will just cause low combustion efficiency, low heat and increased smoke and ash.Therefore with wood pellets, a ton of fuel pellets last much longer than a ton of wood. Therefore on acost comparison basis you should compare by heat generated, not by weight. On a heat-generatedbasis, the cost of wood pellets is very competitive to logs. This also does not factor in the advantagesof been able to use pellets in highly automated wood pellet stoves and boilers.

Why Being Dependant On PremiumWood Pellets Is Dangerous

Wood pellet fuel, wood pellet stoves and boilers have actually existed since the 1970’s. Agroup of animal feed producers decided to experiment with their equipment to produce wood pelletsfor fuel. The innovation was sparked due to the 1973 oil crisis, which saw oil prices skyrocket, as wehave also seen within recent years. The 1973 oil crisis lead to several alternative energy innovations,however as the oil prices returned to their previous levels, many of these innovations, including wood pellets and pellet stoves were forgotten. However, the last decade has seen a revival of alternative energy and renewable energy technologies, including that of wood pellets and pellet heating systems.Europe and Sweden particularly have embraced the wood pellet technology. For example in 2006 Sweden used 1.4 million tons of pellets, compare that to next closest which was Italy at 0.5 milliontons. By 2020 Europe is expected to consume 50 million tons of fuel pellets every year. The US market

is also rapidly expanding. Wood pellets have many advantages over fossil fuels. Not only are they acheaper alternative, but they can also reduce carbon dioxide emissions and also support the economy with much needed jobs, and keep money spent within the local economy.

Premium Wood Pellets, The Staple of the Pellet Fuel Industry

When most consumers and journalists refer to wood pellets, what they are more specifically referring to is premium wood pellets. Premium wood pellets are produced from only a few selected wood species such as pine, spruce and oak sawdust, and this sawdust is mainly sourced from timber processing. The fuel pellets are referred to as premium grade, as they produce the lowest ash content of any fuel pellet, and therefore require the least amount of maintenance. To produce a premium

grade pellet, the sawdust must also be free from bark, to keep the ash content produced to a minimum. The premium fuel pellet was developed in Sweden.

What’s the Problem With The Premium Wood Pellet

As stated the premium wood pellet fuel was developed in Sweden. Sweden has huge forest reserves and a massive timber industry. Therefore it is obvious why Sweden saw the potential in wood pellets to provide them with a local supply of fuel using their own resources. However, Sweden also has a relatively small population of only 10 million people. Therefore they have easily enough waste wood residue to support their own population with premium wood pellets. However the same specification premium wood pellet is now a global fuel. It’s clear though that simply using pine, spruce and oak sawdust as a raw material is not sustainable to support and grow the global pellet fuel market. Yet, to this day the emphasis is firmly on premium wood pellet fuel, made from these resources. Not surprising though really, as any increase in demand for premium wood pellets will increase the price of sawdust, a material which the timber industry used to have to pay to dispose of. Therefore it’s in the

timber industries interest to focus purely on premium grade fuel pellets, however it’s not in the best interest of consumers. The problem is most wood pellet stove and boiler manufacturers have been designing their products to the specifications of premium grade wood pellets. Which means if you buy one of their pellet stoves or boilers, you will be forced into buying only premium grade wood pellet fuel

Biomass Fuels Pellets FromResources Other Than Wood

Now, premium wood pellets are just one form of pellet fuel. The fact is you can compress pretty much any other wood resource of biomass material into pellet form, and use it as a fuel. However, as you would expect, each material has its own combustion characteristics.

Other Wood Resources Which Could Be Used For Fuel Pellets

There is so much potential wood waste that can be processed intofuel pellets, which cannot currently be used to produce premiumgrade pellet fuel. For example, waste generated from woodlandmanagement could be used, as much of this wood waste still goes tolandfill or is burnt for no benefit. There are many other sources ofwood that could be processed into fuel pellets. Other grades ofwood pellet fuel will produce a slightly higher ash content but the

same heat value as premium grade pellets. However most pelletstoves and boilers cannot deal with the small increase in ash.

Biomass Materials Which Could Be Used For Fuel Pellets

Biomass simply refers to any organic material, which can be used as a potential fuel source.

Therefore biomass includes all forms of wood, but it also includes grasses, straws and energy crops.

All of these materials can be processed into fuel pellets. There aremany biomass alternatives to wood, which have a much shortergrowing cycle. With a shorter growing cycle much more biomass canbe produced to meet the demands of the fuel pellet market now andinto the future. The biomass could be purpose grown or taken from

existing industries, for example the straw from wheat and barley, orthe cobs and stalks from corn production. Purpose grown biomasscould include Switchgrass, Miscanthus, Reed Canary Grass or Hemp.Hemp is not marijuana, and cannot be used as a drug, and withoutHemp the developed world wouldn’t exist. However, throughpropaganda a crop that was grown by 1 in 3 farmers is now hardlyseen. However Hemp is making a return, and is an excellent resourcefor biomass fuel pellets. It only takes 3 months from seed to harvest,and Hemp fuel pellets burn very similar to wood pellets. Hemp also requires no fertiliser and can begrown on land that cannot be used for food crops. Put simply, Hemp is the future of biomass pellets.

Burning Biomass Pellets In Pellet Stoves and Boilers

Some pellet stove and boiler manufacturers realise that wood pellets and particularly premium wood pellets cannot meet the future demands of the pellet fuel market. These manufactures have therefore designed their pellet burners to be able to deal with the challenges created through burning biomass fuel pellets, while still providing the consumer with an automated low maintenance-heating appliance.

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