Is A Biomass Boiler The Right Option For You?

Although the price of oil has plummeted 40 percent since June 2014, it is unlikely to stay that low for very long. Additionally, mitigating the effect fossil fuel has on the environment has become a concern for many people in America. To combat the cost of gas and reduce the amount of greenhouse gasses emitted into the atmosphere, many individuals and companies are considering switching over to biomass boilers. Here's more information about these appliances so you can determine if this is the right type of investment for you.

What is a Biomass Boiler?

A biomass boiler burns biological-based products such as wood as fuel. The idea behind these types of systems is to use biological mass that would otherwise go to waste as a source of energy. There is a wide variety of fuels that can be used to power a biomass boiler including:

  • Wood pellets
  • Rice husks
  • Bark
  • Agave fiber
  • Sugar cane bagasse
  • Grass and field clippings
  • Nuts, shells and husks
  • Paper
  • Cardboard
  • Sawdust and shavings
  • Chicken manure and hog fuel
  • Sludge

Not all types of fuel are a good fit for every area. For instance, chicken manure is probably better suited for agricultural areas, rather than residential ones, where the smell won't be as bothersome to the neighbors.

Energy Efficiency and Environmental Impact

Depending on the size and setup, the boiler can be used to only warm up water or also provide heat to the entire home. These appliances tend to be larger than their oil or gas brethren and require more surrounding space to store the bio-fuel. They also require a flue to be built into the home to allow for adequate venting. Adjustments to the plumbing may also be required.

One of the benefits of biomass boilers is they are highly energy efficient, capable of achieving up to 90 percent efficiency depending on the model. The bio-fuel itself is generally cheaper than oil or natural gas. However, the cost of transporting the fuel to the location can eat away at these savings. Some bio-fuels—such as animal wastes—have high moisture content that impacts the amount of energy that can be extracted from it, and you may have to use more of the fuel to get the same amount of energy a smaller amount of oil would produce.

Some bio-fuels do burn clean, meaning they don't impact the environment in a negative way. However, some fuels like wood and grass clippings are not as environmentally friendly as one would think. Wood in particular can produce volatile organic compounds that can increase air pollution and aggravate diseases such as asthma. If the bio-fuel is not completely combusted, it can create a pollutant called black carbon, which is the second leading contributor to global warming.

When choosing a biomass boiler system, it's important to give ample thought to the type of fuel you'll use to ensure you're choosing one that fulfills your environmental needs.

Cost of Installation

It can cost up to $15,000 to install a biomass boiler that uses wood pellets. The price, however, may vary depending on the manufacturer and type of boiler installed. For instance, a boiler that is capable of burning any type of bio-fuel may cost more than one that can only burn a single type of fuel.

For more information about biomass boiler, contact a knowledgeable contractor such as Boiler Services, Inc. who can help you determine which one best fits your needs and goals.