Biomass is a form of stored solar energy and is available in a number of different forms, such as wood, straw, energy crops, sewage sludge, waste organic materials and animal litter. This energy is released by burning or fermentation and distillation.
Of all possible renewable heating solutions, biomass has the potential to deliver some of the most significant and cost-effective carbon savings, particularly for commercial and industrial applications.
It can also stimulate local economic activity by creating fuel chains and make use of resources that would otherwise be treated as water and sent to landfill.
Biomass fuels are typically delivered as woodchips or wood pellets. These are available from The Engineering Support Partnership Ltd or uk-biomass that provide assistance with setting up competitive fuel supply contracts from third party distributors.
The benefits of using biomass boilers are that wood fuel can be characterised as carbon- neutral, these boilers provide a sustainable, efficient energy solution.
The biomass boiler is the heart of the biomass heating system, and there are many different types, they are;
- Log boilers - some log-fired boilers are basic, but others are highly efficient and sophisticated systems.
- Pellet boilers - wood pellets burn evenly as they do not contain much moisture.
- Wood chip boilers - these are most suitable for medium and large scale installations.
The choice of boiler type is determined, in the first instance, by the fuel that is intended to be used, and then the level of automation required; this is a trade-off between convenience and cost.
A biomass heating system can be used for space heating of buildings, hot water production, steam production, or any combination of these and it primarily uses biomass as a fuel, some systems can also dual-fire with a fossil fuel to meet peak demands for back-up.
They can be used at almost any scale, from domestic through to ‘light’ commercial, to industrial or district heating systems.
The key elements of a whole biomass heating solution are:
• Fuel delivery
• Fuel reception, storage, and extraction from storage to the boiler unit.
• A specialised biomass boiler unit.
• Ancillary equipment: flue (chimney), ash extraction mechanism, heat storage, connecting pipe work, expansion tank, fire dousing system, controls systems and possibly an integrated fossil fuel system.
From an operational perspective, one of the most notable differences between a biomass heating system and a conventional fossil fuel heating system is that the biomass boiler is best suited to being operated relatively continuously (between c.30% and 100% of its rated output).
This method of operation will generate the greatest cost savings; this is because biomass fuels are cheaper than many fossil fuels. Cheaper fuel means cheaper running costs.
A biomass heating plant will be considerably larger in volume than an equivalently rated fossil-fuel plant due, to the inherent combustion characteristics of solid, organic materials.
The additional equipment such as the flue/chimney and ash handling is mostly determined by the type and size of the boiler, whilst the need for thermal stores for example, hot water cylinder and fossil fuel stand-by is determined by the site heat load and reaction times required.
To summarise; biomass heating systems can generate significant cost savings versus conventional heating. The degree of saving will vary depending on the particular system chosen. Furthermore the environmental benefits are a significant reduction in carbon emissions.