Wood pellets are a densified fuel created in much the same way as animal grain; pressing a dried feedstock (wood chips) through a rotary mill. The resulting cylindrical pellets are easily transported for use in either a room conditioner (stove) or whole-house heating system (boiler). Pellets may be purchased by the bag or bulk delivered to an onsite fuel silo, the latter having the added convenience of automatic fueling.
Refined Wood Chips
Refined wood chips, also called dried wood chips are composed of chipped woody material that is size-sorted and dried to less than 35% moisture content. DOER appreciates that this product may be passively (air) dried as a log prior to chipping. Importantly as this fuel has a low moisture content it will not block freeze, even in a Massachusetts winter. It is therefore possible to store this fuel in a silo (similar to a pellet silo) and take advantage of automatic boiler fueling. Refined chips are typically consumed within 50 miles of their woodland origins.
Green Wood Chips
Green chips are fresh wood chips typically with a moisture content of approximately 50%. While this fuel is usually created by chipping whole trees, the practice may be modified to exclude smaller-diameter branches and associated foliage. Because green chips must be handled by heavy equipment, this fuel type is most appropriate to meet large heating loads.
Firewood has been a source of residential heat for millennia. In Massachusetts this hardwood fuel is typically radially split and air dried (seasoned) for a minimum of six months. Cordwood is appropriate for use in stoves, boilers and exterior hydronic heaters. In a practical sense, cordwood is the only biomass fuel that can be self-supplied.
Home Heating with Biomass
Humans have heated their dwellings and cooked their food with wood (biomass) for thousands of years. Over time our homes have changed and, predictably so have the methods we use to heating them. This technological evolution remains active to this day with significant advances occurring every year. Thanks to these changes Modern Wood Heat is now able to demonstrate efficiency and emissions profiles similar to fossil fuels. Additionally, like traditional furnaces, many such Modern Wood Heating devices are automatically fed from fuel storage containers (pellet or chip). In many cases such fuel storage containers need only be filled once a heating season.
Additional Resources for Home Heating with Biomass
Commercial Heating with Biomass
Biomass is also considered a viable source of renewable thermal energy for the commercial sector. A prime historical example of this application can be seen within the Commonwealth’s Agricultural Community where fuel wood has been used to boil sap into maple syrup; a ubiquitous practice on early Massachusetts farms. However, in modern times this utilization is far less visible. That said, businesses, schools, even hospitals within the Commonwealth and surrounding states are utilizing woody biomass to both sustainably and affordably meet their heating needs.
Biomass Incentive and Grant Programs
To help achieve sustainability and meet carbon reduction goals the State currently has several incentive programs. These programs are designed to increase the adoption of Modern Wood Heating in homes and businesses across the Commonwealth.