When it comes to economical and environmentally-conscious fuels, pellet fuels, or biomass pellets, are an effective solution. These pellets are composed out of compressed organic matter, and may include one or more of the following basic biomass categories:
- Industrial waste and co-products
- Food waste
- Agricultural residues
- Energy crops
- Virgin lumber
This organic matter is made into fuel with a biomass pellet machine. Wood pellets, which are gaining in usage, are made with a wood pellet making machine.
By 2020, Navigant Research has indicated that the annual global revenue from biomass power generation might approach $11.5 billion.
CO2 emissions are reduced by using biomass pellets instead of oil. Every ton of pellets, for example, reduces these emissions by approximately 1.5 tons. Furthermore, this year alone, it is expected that the usage of biomass pellets, rather than oil, will counteract approximately 4.5 million tons of CO2.
Biomass wood pellets are a popular biomass fuel in the United States, and the demand is expected to significantly increase by 2025. By that date, the need for this form of fuel has been estimated at approximately five million metric tons.
One of the reasons for the high demand pertains to fuel equivalency. One ton of wood pellets, for example, is the equivalent of 2.8 barrels of #2 fuel oil. Three million tons would be the equivalent of 8.5 million barrels of #2 fuel oil.
Direct thermal conversion is also more efficient with wood pellets. They have an 80% efficiency rate and a fossil energy ratio of 12:1.
The United States exports wood pellets to Europe as well as other countries throughout the world. Over 98% of these biomass pellets are delivered annually to Europe, however.
The exportation of wooden biomass pellets has increased to the level that it has almost doubled. In 2012, for example, 1.6 million short tons were exported. In 2013, this amount increased to 3.2 million short tons.
Wooden biomass pellets are practical and economical for home heating usage. During the colder months, the average household uses approximately three tons of pellets. The cost for this is around $825 dollars.
To provide a comparative retail fuel cost analysis, biomass pellets, on average, cost $250 a ton. When considering the British thermal unit (BTU), these pellets provide a fuel cost per million BTUs of $19.05. To match this price, #2 fuel oil would need to be $2.05 per gallon, and propane would need to be $1.36 per gallon.
The most common wood-burning appliance is a wood stove. There are new ones on the market, such as catalytic stoves and inserts, that provide even greater efficiency than the older models. They have up to a 83% higher heating value.
When heating a 2,000 square-foot home, for example, a stove rated at 60,000 BTUs is sufficient. If the space that needs heating is 1,300 square feet, then a stove rated at 42,000 BTUs would be able to heat that space.
It’s clear that biomass fuels are more economical and safer to the environment than the usual alternatives, such as #2 fuel oil and propane. While wood pellets are gaining in usage, there are other types of biomass pellets available.