05 October 2007

Organic Energy

Organishe Energie. This is what a lead German pellet appliance manufacturer is using as their tag line. Simple, yet powerful.
This is an homage to European biomass technology.

Ökofen Wood Pellet Heating Systems is one of the leading manufacturers in Europe. Their Pelletmatic is technically and stylistically superior to any American pellet whole house systems. This year they introduced their Energy Box. If you don't have a basement, or have the room to put your boiler inside, you can simply put it outside.

One of the items we started pining for as soon as we saw it at the Energiesparverband in 2005 is their Pelletstank. The European standard is to use suction to move the pellets from the bulk storage into the unit as opposed a cumbersome auger system. The flow dynamics of pellet fuel are nothing short of amazing. They use an under-fire system which accommodates a much lesser grade of pellet than we require in the US, and Okofen's boilers have a nice large ash pan. A new addition this year is an ash compression system. The ash is simply transferred to a box outside the boiler (looks like a suitcase), which you can wheel away. In Europe the vast majority of pellets are delivered by bulk trucks, like oil is delivered in the US. So when the tech comes to deliver fuel they empty your ash, making it a zero user input system.
I am torn about whether or not to promote bulk feed too much in the US. Pellets are a large part of what keeps most pellet shops afloat in the off-season. There is a very small margin in fuel. Looking at it from my vantage point, I don't think our shop could run (the way it does now) without pellet fuel as part of the equation. But that is probably a topic for a different day...

Guntamatic is a manufacturer we toured as a part of the World Energy Conference. Their innovative boiler includes a tube bundle heat exchanger, a spiral jet secondary air feature, a vibrator tube cleaning mechanism, and an auger ash removal system.
With the added patented pellet valve Fröling ensures the legendary safety of a wood-heating system. Froling received the Innovation Award given by the Federal Ministry and the State of Upper Austria this year for it's P2 boiler.

Definitely, one of the most innovative products we saw at the last show was the Stirling Power Module pellet boiler. The combination of the SPM module with a KWB pellet heating system ensures that wood, a renewable and domestic energy source, is optimally used for the production of heat AND energy, also in single-family homes. This power station makes it possible to produce a significant part of the annual energy requirement of an average single-family home by using the energy from a pellet heating unit.
Sollet is one of many company's that offer one of the most practical pellet solar solutions. Use energy from the sun when it is available, and support it with pellet for night, and inclement weather.
European government is incredibly in favor of biomass heating. Tax incentives abound and people are encouraged to switch to this renewable fuel. Here in the US we have been struggling to get noticed in Washington. NH representatives have definitely lead the charge introducing multiple pieces of legislation which include provisions for biomass. Here are some related links that may be interesting for further study.
While it is at times frustrating to think that pellet technology started in this country when we now lag so far behind. Still, I am hopeful that our fav US manufacturer Harman Stove Company will be able to continue releasing some of the most innovative, well constructed, technologically sound pellet appliances for years to come under their new ownership.

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