Biomass for Heat (residential heating fuels)

The original type of bioheat - the wood fire - has been providing heat to humans for thousands of years.  This controlled, direct combustion of biomass for heating is a technology that appears in the archeological record during Paleolithic times, at least 125,000 years ago, when Homo sapiens left evidence of controlling fire. Today’s biomass combustion technologies allow for more complete combustion, as well as better capture and retention of heat from combustion than an open campfire;  however, the fundamental thermo-chemical process is the same. Dried biomass is ignited by a spark or flame. In the combustion process, the biomass hydrocarbons and carbohydrates react with oxygen to produce heat, water, CO2 and light.  The technology to produce heat from biomass has improved to make the combustion process more complete, burning more of the biomass, and collecting more of the heat for useful purposes.  The three primary technologies producing bioheat today are: outdoor wood-burning stoves, biomass pellet stoves, and biomass gasification technologies.  Use of biodiesel in oil-burning furnaces is another biomass-for-heat option under development today.  Each has advantages and disadvantages for the user which are discussed at most of the program workshops.  Each workshop Site handles the "essential element" topics in a slightly different way.  Contact the Site Director to determine the activities planned for Biomass for Heat if this is your particular area of interest.