An introduction to biomass fuel and biomass boilers
Biomass fuels are used in biomass stoves and biomass boilers to provide hot water and heat in the same way that a gas boiler would. Typically fossil fuels are coal and other resources which are found in nature and harvested for our own use, although our earth has a limited supply of them. Biomass fuel on the other hand is made up of organic material which is suitable for burning, such as wood and crop waste. Many homes and commercial premises throughout the UK who do not have access to grid supplied gas currently use fossil fuels; the British Government is trying to convince people to move away from this to biomass fuels instead.
Fossil fuels verses biomass fuels
The earth’s natural resources are depleting and they will not last forever, this in turn directly contributes to the rise of inflation as the manufacturing process for goods become a more expensive business. This is basic economics, demand remains constant but supply is going down and therefore price goes up – eventually we all feel the end result of this in our pocket.
Burning fossil fuels also contributes to the warming of our planet and so this is not really a good solution for providing something as basic as hot water and heat for people. A better alternative is that for those who are currently using fossil fuel to switch to a biomass boiler instead. We will look at the different types of biomass fuel in just a moment but just know for that a scheme exists called the “closed carbon cycle” which means that if we switch to using biomass fuel then for every part of carbon which is release into our atmosphere, and also if we use timber taken from controlled forestry which supports the closed cabon scheme, then the same amount of carbon expended is then put back into the earth by way of planting trees. This means that the same amount of carbon is neutralized and the pollution effect of burning fuel is minimal if felt at all. This is clearly better for our planet.
How do biomass boilers work?
So what is biomass fuel and how do biomass boilers use it? There are numerous saw mills and places that manipulate wood and timber that produce waste material, the same applies to organic crop waste and animal waste. Timber in particular can be obrained in the form of wooden logs and wooden chips.
All of this waste is biomass as it derives from organic material. Most people will use logs and chips to fuel their fire but a downside to using logs and chips is that they retain moisture; this requires energy from your biomass stove before combustion can take place and so it is particularly efficient and takes longer to give out it’s energy in the form of heat.
Logs in particular are also bulky meaning you require somewhere to store them. A better alternative is to use wooden pellets. Wooden pellets have the moisture taken out of them and they are also compacted into very small cylinderical shapes. For these reasons they combust at a better rate and are also easier to store.
Many boiler manufacturers now produce their boilers along with a device called a hopper or feed which can automatically store and feed these pellets into the boiler for you. Overall this is more convenient. Other features are available too such as self-cleaning boilers and temperature controls. Grant Engineering produce boilers that have a patented system called a baffler; this redirects waste heat back into the combustion chamber too, this makes for extreme efficiency.
The UK Government and the RHI scheme
In order to entice people to switch to using biomass boilers and fuel rather than fossil fuels the UK Government announced a scheme to help commercial premises make the switch easier by providing funding. This is called RHI or Renewable Heat Incentive and is the first of it’s kind throughout the whole world. Unfortunately not many commercial premises took the offer up and so in late 2013 the minister for climate change, Greg Barker, announced that the scheme would now also be opened up to domestic customers too.
Combining this scheme with other environmentally friendly incentives such as the Green Deal Scheme, which helps us convert our homes to be more energy efficient, and it’s clear to see that the British Government is actively trying to persuade the British public to become more environmentally aware.
We all need to be more environmentally aware if we are save our planet. If you currently use fossil fuels then you should really consider switching to biomass boilers instead. They are cheaper to run, you can get financial help to set them up and they quite literally do not cost the earth.