Cleaner Energy From Advanced Wood Combustion Technology

Battle climate change by burning more wood? New research shows that high-efficiency wood combustion technology is cleaner and more cost-effective than fossil fuels.


| February/March 2010



wood combustion technology - Treebulb

Using modern wood combustion technology, a well-managed woodlot of only 4 acres can sustainably produce enough firewood to heat a modest-size, energy-efficient home.


PHOTO: ISTOCKPHOTO

Wood, the oldest fuel source known to humans, may be about to experience a renaissance thanks to rising oil and gas costs combined with shrinking bank accounts. Ultra-efficient, ultra-clean advanced wood combustion technology and fast-growing “perpetual” fuel woods can, on the micro level, bring increased home heating security for landowners and, on the macro level, create a regenerative fuel source for electricity generation.

How does fuel wood combat climate change? Wood is often considered “carbon neutral,” because growing it pulls as much carbon dioxide out of the air as is released into the atmosphere when it’s burned. So, unlike gas or oil, it releases no net carbon. It is a closed-loop energy source, simply recirculating the carbon dioxide already within the Earth’s carbon cycle.

An analysis led by Daniel D. Richter, professor of soils and forest ecology at Duke University, proposes we are missing a key strategy in our search for sustainable, cleaner energy solutions. Richter says we need to consider advanced wood combustion, which he defines as “automated, high-efficiency wood-fired energy generation systems with strict air pollution control.”

The analysis was detailed by Richter and a multidisciplinary team of experts in the March 13, 2009 issue of Science magazine, and points out that creating thermal and electrical energy with advanced wood combustion has been growing quickly throughout Europe. “These facilities release remarkably low quantities of air pollutants and have system-wide thermal efficiencies approaching 90 percent,” Richter says. According to the article, the cost of wood fuel is several times cheaper than fossil fuel costs (per unit of energy produced).

The authors of the Science article say the United States is well-suited for sustaining a wood-energy economy. Yet currently, energy from wood provides only about 2 to 3 percent of total U.S. energy consumption. This is about half of the potential annual sustainable wood supply available to us for power generation.

The report also identifies “waste” wood as an untapped asset, estimating that 30 million tons of urban wood per year can be safely burned for energy. For example, the District Energy program in St. Paul, Minn., burns 250,000 tons of waste wood and other biomass per year to provide heating, cooling, and other energy to part of the city.

kaminofen
9/17/2015 12:12:06 AM

@Jeff: A modern way to use firewood very effective is by using a water boiler with an integrated cooking plate and the possibility to generate 19 kW/h, more than enough to heat up your entire house. look here: http:www.normatherm.com!


kaminofen
9/17/2015 12:02:30 AM

For those who want to calculate how much energy is inside the firewood look here: http://www.normatherm.com/Fireplace-WebApp/index.html


kevin hinman_1
2/20/2010 9:27:00 PM

This is on the Wood-Gas Generator to power your truck in the Feb/March issue As a wood turnner I am going to say it would help the smoking or soot problem by drying the wood for a year or more as far as the air leak just spray some water around the intake any change in RPM will let you know right where the leak is Kevin Hinman


jeff patrick
2/20/2010 4:49:47 PM

My Wife and I installed a wood boiler in our garage and piped it into our oil boiler,3 years ago and have not used any oil since then.Sure it is work and not always as convenient, but I like the idea that we are not stripping Canadian forests or sending money to countries that hate us. Even if I had to buy my wood I would rather provide local jobs than ship my money overseas.Like buying a foreign car.






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