NYSERDA Research to Promote High-Efficiency Biomass Heating Technologies
September 30, 2008
Albany, N.Y.--The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) today announced a state-funded program to support the evaluation and improvement of biomass-fired heating equipment. The program will clear a path for New York-grown fuels, create new manufacturing jobs, and improve environmental performance of biomass technologies.
Nine projects valued at more than $2.5 million will compare energy and emissions performance for wood-burning equipment, including residential and commercial wood boilers, pellet stoves, wood stoves, and emerging grass-pellet technologies. The NYSERDA-funded studies will be conducted in cooperation with New York State manufacturing companies, research organizations, universities, and government agencies. NYSERDA is investing $1.6 million in this effort, with an additional $0.9 million in co-funding from research partners. A summary of the nine projects is attached.
Robert Callender, NYSERDA vice president for programs said, “With the increasing use of alternative fuels, we must strive for high energy efficiency and environmental performance. There are opportunities to improve the energy efficiency of wood-fired heating equipment and substantially reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, particulate matter, and other pollutants.”
Conventional outdoor wood boilers waste more than half the energy of wood fuel and emit significant amounts of pollutants. Advanced wood-boiler units developed in Europe can achieve efficiencies greater than 80 percent and produce less than five percent of the particulate emissions of inefficient wood boilers typically used in the U.S. The advanced systems are commonly called staged-combustion or gasification boilers, and NYSERDA is working with two companies to manufacture these products here in New York State: Alternative Fuel Boilers of Dunkirk, New York; and Advanced Climate Technologies (ACT) of Schenectady, New York, focusing on the residential and commercial markets, respectively.
Alternative Fuel Boilers LLC, a subsidiary of Dunkirk Metal Products Inc., manufactures and sells the Econoburn ™ wood boiler. William L. Raines, president and CEO of Alternative Fuel Boilers said, “The Econoburn™ wood boiler utilizes gasification technology that captures and re-combusts chimney flue gases to dramatically increase energy efficiency and significantly reduce air emissions. We look forward to working with NYSERDA to document the high-quality energy and environmental performance of our completely ‘Made in the U.S.A.’ boilers.”
ACT's project at the Cayuga Nature Center in Ithaca, N.Y, will demonstrate a fully automated, 90 percent efficient wood-gasification boiler technology that is proven in Europe and adapted for the U.S. market. These systems have emissions that are significantly better than conventional wood boilers and comparable to typical oil or gas boilers. Mid-sized buildings (10-100,000 sq.ft.) represent 90 percent of the boiler market in the U.S., and are prime targets for these wood systems which can achieve rapid paybacks when replacing fossil-fuel boilers.
NYSERDA is funding three studies that between them will compare conventional commercial biomass systems and high-efficiency European-style gasification biomass boilers to oil-fired systems. The studies will evaluate energy efficiency and emissions for woody biomass in several forms: wood chips with bark, wood chips without bark, and wood pellets. These studies will be conducted by Clarkson University, the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM), and Advanced Climate Technologies. The demonstration at Clarkson University will be the first project for an innovative Energy Park being developed to study alternative energy sources on the campus.
There also is increased interest in pelletized grass for heating. NYSERDA is working with Cornell University and the State University at Canton in manufacturing grass pellets, identifying the operational requirements for pellet stoves and boilers, determining stove and boiler compatibility with grass pellets, and evaluating the emissions from these systems.
In cooperation with the U.S. EPA and Brookhaven National Laboratories, NYSERDA’s program will perform a comprehensive scientific evaluation of several different advanced and conventional biomass technologies to characterize emissions and energy efficiency in specialized combustion laboratories. The technologies to be evaluated include both residential- and commercial-scale boilers with various fuel types under different operating conditions.
- Finally, NYSERDA is supporting a study with NESCAUM to evaluate the effects of emissions from wood combustion on local air quality. Wood combustion may be more common in rural areas where there are fewer residences, but due to the high particle emissions rate of conventional wood burning technologies, wood smoke concentrations in local air can become elevated, depending on meteorological conditions and local topography. This study will use an innovative approach linking a mobile monitoring strategy with a geographical information system to characterize ambient air pollution gradients over relatively small spatial scales with varying landscape features.
NYSERDA Emissions Study
|Project Partners||Project Title||County||Description|
|Alternative Fuel Boilers
||Project will evaluate energy and environmental performance of residential size wood gasification boiler.|
|Advanced Climate Technologies (ACT, Cayuga Nature Center, Clarkson University, Cornell University
||Commercial Wood Gasification Boiler Demonstration
||Project will evaluate energy and environmental performance of commercial size wood gasification boiler at the Cayuga Nature Center in Ithaca, NY. |
|Northeast States For Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM)
||Emissions Characterization for Small-scale Commercial Wood Boilers.
||Project will evaluate energy and environmental performance of conventional commercial-scale biomass technology. Testing will also be performed on oil–fired boilers for comparison. Results from this study will be compared to high-efficiency wood gasification units.|
|Clarkson University, ACT, New England Wood Pellet
||Demonstration and Evaluation of a European Wood Pellet/Solar Boiler System
||Project will demonstrate an advanced commercial-scale technology and evaluate energy efficiency and emissions. The project will be conducted at Clarkson University’s Energy Park.|
||Performance of Pellet Stoves and Boilers Using Grass Pellets for a Fuel Source
||Project will evaluate high- and low- ash content grass-based pellets and mixtures of grass and wood pellets. Project will test the functionality of pellet stoves in managing and removing ash residue from the burn chamber.|
|SUNY Canton, Cornell University Cooperative Extension
||Demonstrations and Field Testing of Combustion Characteristics of Domestic and European Appliances Burning Grass Pellets
||Project will produce grass pellets and test them in a variety of pellet burning equipment.|
|U.S. EPA Office of R&D
||Environmental Characterization of Outdoor Wood-Fired Hydronic Heaters.
||Project will evaluate the energy efficiency and emissions from conventional and advanced residential size wood boilers by EPA methods at the EPA combustion laboratories. Project will also characterize environmental impacts of various wood boiler technologies based of different market scenarios.|
|Brookhaven National Laboratories
||Comparative Study of Efficiency and Emissions for Residential Biomass Heating Options
||Project will test energy and emissions performance of outdoor wood boilers, advanced gasification boilers, pellet and wood stoves, and a potential emissions control technology. Project will also coordinate with SUNY Canton and Cornell projects to test the energy efficiency and emissions of stoves and boilers burning grass pellets. |
|NESCAUM, University of British Columbia
||Spatial Modeling and Monitoring of Residential Wood smoke in an Upstate NY region.
||Project will measure the contribution of wood smoke to local air quality during winter stagnation periods.|
Sal Graven, NYSERDA
518-862-1090, Ext. 3331
Last Updated: 10/19/2012