Posted in Lignetics on March 01, 2014 by Administrator
From USA TODAY.
Energy analysts blame record demand, record withdrawals from storage and risks to short-term production.
Steve Schutz of New Berlin knows how frustrated people can get when their heating bills soar and they have only one choice of heating fuel, such as propane, which has tripled in price in recent weeks. Schutz, owner of Sunnyslope Gardens Inc., lowered his heating bill between $2,000 and $3,000 a year by installing wood pellet stoves in his greenhouses and home nine years ago.
Now the stoves are his primary heating source, supplemented by natural gas.
Every morning, Schutz checks his stoves and empties the ash pots. It takes him about an hour to make the rounds for six stoves before he leaves them unattended.
“There is a learning curve. You’re dealing with fire, so you have to check things,” he said.
A lot of people appear to be lining up for that learning curve, especially in rural areas, where they’ve faced propane shortages as well as rising prices.
National trade groups say sales of pellets and pellet stoves are climbing this year, the result of a winter people are likely to remember for decades.
Dejno’s Inc., a pellet manufacturer in Kenosha, Wis., has seen its business heat up as more people turn to pellet stoves and dial back their propane use.
The Kenosha mill takes sawdust and shavings from companies in the home construction industry and presses those waste materials into pellets.
It keeps the waste out of landfills and is a renewable source of homegrown energy, said Larry Dejno, company vice president.
Earth Sense Energy Systems, in the Outagamie County town of Dale, Wis., claims to be the nation’s largest pellet stove dealership.
“Sales are much stronger than average now, driven by high propane costs more so than the cold,” said Chad Curtis, operations manager for the company, which has been in the pellet stove business for 22 years.
The stoves burn compacted pellets, usually made of wood, but some models can burn nutshells, corn kernels and small wood chips. They’re more convenient to operate than ordinary wood stoves or fireplaces, and some have much higher heating efficiencies, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
A stove rated at 60,000 Btu can heat a 2,000-square-foot home, while a stove rated at 42,000 Btu can heat a 1,300-square-foot space, the agency says.
What most homeowners want to know is how much money they could save from heating with a pellet stove compared with using propane, fuel oil or natural gas.
With propane priced at more than $4 a gallon, an equivalent amount of heat from wood pellets would be about five times cheaper, according to Mark Knaebe, forest products technologist with the USDA Forest Products Laboratory.
“It’s a no-brainer for propane and fuel oil users. You would want to switch over to a good wood system,” Knaebe said.
For someone heating with natural gas, the savings wouldn’t amount to much, Knaebe said. That could change, though, if natural gas prices were to increase considerably, as they have in the past.
When propane and fuel oil prices rise, so do pellet stove sales.
The best time to buy a stove and pellets is in the summer, when people have forgotten about heating costs and stove dealerships want to clear out inventory from the previous winter.
Stove prices vary widely, from about $1,200 to $4,000, plus installation and other costs that could include a higher home insurance premium for having a wood burner. The cost of pellets is about $4 per 40-pound bag, with many homeowners using a bag a day to heat their homes or supplement another source of heat.
Most of the stoves don’t need an expensive chimney. Free-standing units resemble a conventional wood stove and generally heat a single room well. But they won’t heat adjacent areas unless there’s a fan to move the warm air between rooms.
The stoves have a fuel hopper to store the pellets until they’re needed for burning. Most hoppers hold 35 to 130 pounds of fuel.
A feeder device, like a large screw, drops a few pellets at a time into a combustion chamber for burning. How quickly the pellets are fed into the burner determines the heat output.
The stoves have to be cleaned by the homeowner, including emptying a pot that holds the ashes. They also require electricity to run fans, controls and pellet feeders. Under normal usage, a stove would use about $9 worth of electricity a month, according to the Department of Energy.
“Unless the stove has a backup power supply, the loss of electric power results in no heat and possibly some smoke in the house,” the agency says.
Many people use a pellet stove to supplement or replace their main heating source until propane, natural gas or fuel oil prices go down. For comparison purposes, the Forest Products Laboratory has a fuel-cost calculator on its website, www.fpl.fs.fed.us.
The current propane crisis is a reminder that it’s smart to have two ways to heat your home, said John Crouch, spokesman for the Pellet Fuels Institute in Sacramento, Calif.
“It gives you some independence. When you have only one way to heat your home, you’re stuck with whatever that fuel price is,” he said.
Posted in Lignetics on February 21, 2014 by Administrator
SOURCE: BBI International
February 20, 2014
ORLANDO, FL – (Feb. 20 2014) – Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced 18 projects that receive funding through the Renewable Heat NY program, to help install high-efficiency, low-emission wood-fired heating equipment, according to a recent article in Biomass Magazine.
The funding is being awarded through the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority's Energy and Environmental Performance of Biomass-fired Heating Equipment program.
Besides helping cover costs of advanced biomass heating systems, Renewable Heat NY is being designed to facilitate workforce training and manufacturer support for field testing, equipment certification and early stage product development. NYSERDA is developing a Biomass Heating Roadmap for the state, which is slated for release later this year and will assess policy strategies and economic and environmental impacts.
Award recipients to date include:
Clarkson University, Potsdam, $80,000. This project will study the presence of carbon monoxide in wood pellet storage facilities and in the laboratory due to offgassing, and investigate methods to improve air quality in pellet storage areas.
Clarkson University, Saranac Lake, $267,500. Two fully automatic high-efficiency and low-emission wood pellet boilers made by Evoworld will be installed in residential locations by Clarkson University. One boiler will be placed in a shipping container outside one of the homes, while the second boiler will be placed in the basement of a second home. This project will evaluate for two years the performance and emissions of these units under the cold winter conditions.
The Wild Center & Natural History Museum of the Adirondacks, Tupper Lake, $126,000. Recipients will add two 850-gallon tanks of thermal storage to an existing combined pellet boiler and solar thermal project at the Wild Center. The program will evaluate the improved efficiency of this system for two heating seasons, which is expected to approach 85 percent. Clarkson University will perform the third party evaluation.
Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management, Lake Placid, $190,000. This project will study the winter characteristics of wood smoke particulate matter concentrations in a rural valley community over two winters. Monitoring will identify weather conditions leading to high wood smoke, and help address air quality and public health planning needs. Research Foundation of SUNY Canton, Canton, $163,000. Fully automatic wood pellet heating systems will be installed in three buildings in St. Lawrence County to demonstrate how these systems will operate.
Northeast Forests LLC, Thendara, $98,000. This project will evaluate the costs and processes involved in producing and supplying low-moisture content wood chips. The results will be shared with the forest product community.
Vincent's Heating & Fuel Service LLC, Poland, $110,000. Vincent's will purchase an 8-ton, wood pellet delivery truck to expand its residential and commercial delivery capacity, expanding the bulk wood pellet market in upstate New York. NYSERDA funds will be used to give the truck the pneumatic ability to deliver bulk pellets.
Cornell Cooperative Extension, Ithaca, $66,000. The project will replace older wood stoves and a few outdoor wood boilers in the region with wood pellet stoves and wood pellet boilers that provide higher efficiency and lower emissions.
Finger Lakes Research Conservation and Development Council, Bath, $97,000. This project will evaluate a commercial biomass boiler designed for grasses, examining both thermal efficiency and emissions performance when burning grass pellets produced in the Southern Tier.
University at Buffalo Research Foundation, Buffalo, $300,000. The university is working with Econoburn to develop a commercial two-stage wood hydronic heater with improved combustion chamber design and added sensors and controls to improve efficiency and lower emissions.
Hydronic Specialty Supply, Cassadaga, $227,500. This project will develop residential and commercial firewood gasification boilers that can maintain high efficiency and low emissions due to an innovative staged-combustion design with smart sensors and controls for optimizing performance. These boilers, coupled with thermal storage, are expected to demonstrate results of double the efficiency of conventional wood boiler technologies, and a corresponding decrease in wood use.
Advanced Wood Combustion Technologies LLC, East Aurora, $49,000. The project goal is to create a two-stage retrofit prototype for single stage outdoor wood boilers that can become commercially viable. The goal of the retrofit is to increase thermal efficiency by 40 percent and greatly reduce fine particle and carbon monoxide emissions.
University of Rochester, Rochester, $300,000. The University of Rochester's Medical Center will study community levels of ambient wood smoke and its link to cardiovascular disease. Previous URMC studies in Rochester found that 30 percent of wintertime fine particulate matter was from wood smoke.
Clarkson University, Syracuse, $102,000. Clarkson will evaluate a commercial pellet boiler that has an electrostatic precipitator emission control technology, which is part of the 8 MMBtu combined-heat-and-power (CHP) system at SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry's new Gateway building. Emissions from both premium wood pellets and willow pellets will be examined. Data will benefit a companion Cornell University air quality modeling project.
Cornell University, Syracuse, $125,000. This project, in conjunction with the previous Clarkson project, will conduct field measurements of the CHP system at SUNY ESF during the use of two types of wood pellet fuels. The goal is to advance air quality modeling capabilities for use in urban environments.
College of Science and Forestry, Syracuse, $150,000. This project will evaluate hot water extraction and flue gas drying technology as an alternative to conventional wood chip drying methods, as the hot water extraction process is one way to reduce ash content. Replicated results with many species indicate a very significant ash reduction for all conditions studied in this project. Reducing the moisture content in wood chips is essential for better combustion and higher performance for advanced wood chip-fired heating units.
Brookhaven National Lab/The Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management, Upton, $300,000. This project will develop a more accurate and realistic test method for biomass heating systems, which is needed to more accurately evaluate advanced wood heating systems. The lack of such a test remains a significant market barrier for these high-efficiency, low-emissions systems. The work will also result in a lowered cost of testing for manufacturers.
The U.S. EPA's National Risk Management Research Laboratory has also received $150,000 to help evaluate the efficiency and emissions performance of a pellet hydronic heater using multiple fuel sources including hardwood pellets and three different types of non-woody biomass from New York. This project will inform policy makers at the federal and state level about the performance of non-woody biomass as a fuel source for heating.
This topic and more will be discussed at the International Biomass Conference & Expo, taking place March 24-26 in Orlando, FL. You can view the online agenda at www.BiomassConference.com.
The conference will also be exploring pellet supply chains and bioenergy project development during two co-located events. These events are titled Pellet Supply Chain Summit and the Bioenergy Project Development Seminar. To learn more visit www.BiomassConference.com.
About BBI International:
Founded in 1995, BBI International produces globally recognized bioenergy events and trade magazines. In addition to the International Biomass Conference & Expo and its allied regional events, BBI owns and operates the largest, longest-running ethanol conference in the world -- the International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo (FEW) -- and the National Advanced Biofuels Conference & Expo. The company publishes Biomass Magazine, Ethanol Producer Magazine, Pellet Mill Magazine, and Biodiesel Magazine, as well as a number of ancillary products including maps, directories, e-newsletters and other web-based industry resources.
Posted in Lignetics on February 07, 2014 by Administrator
Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- A harsh propane drought, resulting in shortages and rapidly rising prices, has left many northlanders searching for alternative sources of heat.
Mark Jeronimus, owner of The Fireplace Corner in Duluth, sells gas, wood, pellet, and electric fireplaces... all alternative forms of heating over the typical furnace.
He says in the past, nearly 75% of sales were from gas fireplaces, but this winter that has changed due to the polar vortex.
"Just because of the real extremes we've got, and with lack of fuel in certain areas, and cost of fuel even when it's available. So pellet has just exploded again," said Jeronimus.
He says pellet fuel is the most reliable type of fuel out there today.
"It's a compressed wood, it's extremely dry so it doesn't have the creosote issues that a wood burning unit has. It's inexpensive to operate, and it doesn't demand the class A flue. It can be vented directly out the wall much like our gas fireplaces can," he says.
For Ben Jorgenson, a young man living in Duluth, the severe shortage of propane has had a major effect.
"We had our furnace go out twice, it's fuel oil, so in addition to it being out we have to fill the tank frequently," said Jorgenson.
He also says 100 gallons of fuel costs about $400, putting a large dent in his pocketbook.
"We just threw a space heater in the upstairs bedroom and just hung out in there, so we didn't spend much time out," said Jorgenson.
Jeronimus says infrared space heaters are extremely efficient during times like these.
"Inexpensive, quick, easy, put it in, anybody can operate it, and it's safe."
As for Jorgenson, it's all about keeping up on keeping the fuel tank full, which will cost a great deal of money for the remainder of the winter.
"I hope we have an early spring."
Anyone having problems affording home heating this winter can call the energy assistance program in their county to see if they quality for aid.
Read the original article and watch the video here.
Posted in Lignetics on February 04, 2014 by Administrator
From USA TODAY.
Energy analysts blame record demand, record withdrawals from storage and risks to short-term production.
NEW YORK (AP) — The frigid winter of 2014 is setting the price of natural gas on fire.
The price in the futures market soared to $5.18 per 1,000 cubic feet Friday, up 10% to the highest level in three and a half years. The price of natural gas is up 29% in two weeks, and is 50% higher than last year at this time.
Record amounts of natural gas are being burned for heat and electricity. Meanwhile, it's so cold that drillers are struggling to produce enough to keep up with the high demand. So much natural gas is coming out of storage that the Energy Department says supplies have fallen 20 percent below a year ago — and that was before this latest cold spell.
"We've got record demand, record withdrawals from storage, and short-term production is threatened," says energy analyst Stephen Schork. "It's a dangerous market right now."
Natural gas and electric customers are sure to see somewhat higher rates in the coming months. But they will be insulated from sharp increases because regulators often force natural gas and electric utilities to use financial instruments and fuel-buying strategies that protect residential customers from high volatility.
To understand the price increase, just look at the thermometer. A second major cold snap this month is gripping much of the country, including the heavily-populated Northeast. And forecasters are now predicting colder weather in the weeks to come, extending south through Texas.
Natural gas is used by half the nation's households for heating, making it the most important heating fuel. Electricity is the second most popular heating source, and electric power generators use natural gas to generate power more than any other fuel except for coal.
Commodity Weather Group, which predicts heating demand for energy companies and consumers, said in a report Friday that periodic breaks in the cold weather are expected to be "weaker and briefer, extending the duration of colder weather" in late January and early February.
There are a couple of other factors at play. In the past, much of U.S. natural gas was produced in the Gulf of Mexico. If weather disrupted supplies there, it was typically in the early fall, during hurricane season, when heating and electricity demand are low and natural gas storage facilities are mostly full in preparation for winter.
Now, much of U.S. production comes from on-shore formations that are more susceptible to cold, ice and snow. Wells that are not designed for such extreme conditions can freeze, halting production.
"Now the threat to production is when demand is at its highest," Schork says.
Also, electric utilities have for several years been switching to cheaper natural gas for power generation. And new pipelines aren't being built fast enough to deliver all the gas required at times of high demand. That can lead to regional shortages that send prices skyrocketing.
In some producing regions in Pennsylvania gas was selling for below national benchmarks Friday, But closer to East Coast cities it was selling for 10 times those benchmarks because producers couldn't get their gas into packed pipelines, according to Citibank energy analyst Anthony Yuen.
When the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Station in Maryland shut down earlier this week because of an electrical problem brought on by snow and ice, power generators across the East Coast scrambled to replace the lost power by cranking up natural gas-fired plants. That sent natural gas prices for immediate delivery, known as the spot price, to a record $120 per 1,000 cubic feet in some markets on the East Coast. To put that in perspective, that's equivalent to oil at more than $700 per barrel.
Analysts say there is plenty of gas to replenish supplies, and drillers will likely ramp up production so they can fetch prices they haven't seen since June of 2010.
That could push prices back down somewhat in the coming weeks. If, that is, the weather warms up later in February and March. If it's still cold when baseball season opens in early April, though, Schork says, "we'll be looking at much higher natural gas prices."
Read the original article here
Posted in Lignetics on January 18, 2014 by Administrator
On November 8, 2011, the Pellet Fuels Institute announced the launch of the PFI Standards Program, a third-party accreditation program providing specifications for residential and commercial-grade fuel.
The American Lumber Standard Committee (ALSC) serves as the program’s accreditation body, providing program implementation and enforcement, as well as facilitating program enrollment.
Lignetics has been accredited by a PFI Standards Program auditing agency and are permitted to display the Quality Mark on their bags of fuel found in the marketplace.
- Linn, West Virginia Facility (Registration Number: 03304)
- Kenbridge, Virginia Facility (Registration Number: 03434)
- Sandpoint, Idaho Facility (Registration Number: 03208)
There are three main documents that serve as the basis of the program. These documents have been modified over the last year and contain a variety of new information.
Pellet Fuels Institute Standard Specification for Residential/Commercial Densified Fuel This document is the backbone of the program. It outlines the actual grade parameter test method requirements for densified fuels registered in the program.
Pellet Fuels Institute Residential/Commercial Densified Fuel QA/QC Handbook Provides quality control and quality assurance procedures for the production of residential /commercial densified fuels.
American Lumber Standard Committee, Incorporated, Residential/Commercial Densified Fuel Enforcement Regulations This document outlines the roles and responsibilities of the auditing agencies, the laboratories, and the oversight requirements of the Accreditation Body.
A fourth document, the North American Grading and Quality Management System for Residential/Commercial Densified Fuel, should be used as a supplemental reference tool. It outlines the roles of all program entities.
PFI Standards Background
PFI initiated redevelopment of its standards in 2005 and has implemented a program that has been proposed to be incorporated by reference into the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for Residential Wood Heaters. EPA is mandating the regulation of pellet fuel through its NSPS and has voiced its support of the PFI Standards Program for inclusion in the NSPS. A draft of the NSPS is expected to be released by EPA in Summer 2013.
For the purposes of the NSPS, pellets that are tested through the PFI Standards Program are assured to be qualified to a specified grade and can be properly matched to the appliances that are permitted to burn them.
The PFI Standards Program addresses the needs of consumers, fuel and appliance manufacturers and the EPA. The greatest differences between previous programs and the current program include: independent third party inspections, sampling, testing and overall program oversight. Many key components of the earlier program remain intact.
Pellet Fuels Institute
American Lumber Standard Committee