Research Project Information

Research Project Summary Information

Biodiesel Burning for Homes and Industry(ST9386-1)

Heat Wise, Inc.,


Biodiesel is a renewable, diesel-fuel substitute made from new or used vegetable oils or animal fats. In past work conducted by Brookhaven National Laboratory (the subcontractor in this project) and funded by NYSERDA, use of biodiesel blended with home heating oil has been demonstrated in both the laboratory and existing homes. Biodiesel blends can be beneficial to help reduce system maintenance and emissions. Commercially available burners for residential, gas-fired, heating systems , however, are not designed to burn higher than 20 percent concentrations of biodiesel blends. Conventional, flame safety controls for oil burners seek to detect high-temperature soot radiation in the flame, which is substantially reduced when biodiesel is burned instead of conventional heating oil. Also, other burner components such as fuel pump seals and electrical wiring can be vulnerable to material degradation when exposed to biodiesel.

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Project Description

In stage one of this project, researchers achieved their goal to develop a small burner system that enables the use of biodiesel in residential, oil-fired heating systems. In Stage One work, necessary modifications were defined and a burner was modified to burn 100% biodiesel based on storage, flow and burning needs. Specific objectives achieved by the end of stage one work included: 1) defining baseline performance targets using the Contractor’s existing Pioneer burner, currently used to burn #2 diesel home heating oil; 2) identifying burner modifications needed to burn 100% biodiesel while meeting baseline performance targets; 3) modifying and testing a series of burners and burner systems capable of burning 100% biodiesel; and, 4) assessing performance and cost characteristics of the modified burner and how that may affect purchasing behavior of the target market. The contractor achieved steady-state performance with the burner using both biodiesel and #2 heating oil. In Stage Two, a marketable burner capable of using all blends of biodiesel from 0 to 100% was developed. The burner was certified to UL standards for biodiesel blends of B20 and B100. Prototypes were manufactured and lab tested. Field demonstrations were carried out to evaluate burner performance under real world conditions.


Combustion of biodiesel blends reduce emissions such as PM2.5, SO2, and NOx. Due the fuel's very low sulfur content, maintenance requirements are reduced. The elimination of sulfur also reduces deposits on the heat exchanger which prevents performance degradation. Biodiesel displaces fossil fuels. There is a NYS economic benefit as this NY company has commerciallized the product. Electricity consumption is reduced by approximately 75%. For installation in a typical Northeast home, electricity savings will be roughly 450 kWhr/year (~$65) and efficiency improvement due to less fouling (when compared to standard sulfur heating oil) will result in saving up to 10 gallons of heating oil per year depending on the blend percentage.

Project Results

A burner capable of using biodiesel blends from 20% to 100% was developed and certification was achieved. Heatwise has partnered with a manufacturer for larger scale production, however, with this partnership the low power benefit was eliminated to substantially reduce cost and increase marketability.


Heat Wise, Inc.,
28 Industrial Blvd., Unit I
Medford, NY 11763

Principle Investigator

Bola Kamath

Universities Involved


Project Type:

Product Development

Technologies Types:

Building Systems
Heating, Ventilation, & Air Conditioning

NYSERDA Contact Information

Nathan Russell


R&D - Buildings Research

Contract Details

Start Date: 1/11/2010
Project Status: Active
Contract Number: ST9386-1

Last Updated: 5/7/2012 1