What Are Biomass Boilers?

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Large buildings like cottages and farm buildings need an efficient heating system. So, the energy solution must not waste energy to keep the overhead low. Over time, people came up with several heating systems to produce enough heat to meet such a challenge. But at last, as greenhouse gas emissions became a hot topic in politics, biomass heating systems emerged as the most eco-friendly alternative for this task.

What are biomass boilers? In layman’s terms, they are boilers that need biomass to work instead of gas or electricity. Biomass is another word for pellet fuels. Usually, pellets are made of wood and food waste. They also may contain traces of bark and leaves or no wood at all. But in short, they are dry tube-shaped pieces of compressed organic matter.

Pellet boilers only use specific pellets made for them, while other types are available for heating appliances like camping stoves. Here is how they work and how energy from biomass reduces your carbon emissions.


What Are Biomass Boilers?

A biomass boiler is a type of boiler that has a pellet reservoir and a combustion chamber. For clarity, the boiler itself is the essential part of the heating system that provides hot water and heating. The appliance can be as big as a wardrobe cabinet. But commercial biomass boilers can take up a whole room.

The system consumes a densified biomass material that comes from a hopper, located either inside the room or in an adjacent area. In detail, the pellets move from some hoses into the tank automatically. The main section of the boiler then combusts the fuel.

When discussing these systems, fume emission is a critical topic. Mainly because of the limits for particulate matter and Nox (nitrogen oxides). High-quality biomass boilers have very low emissions, in line with the stringent sustainability criteria that allow you to claim the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI).


Different Types Of Biomass Boilers

On the market, you can find many models of biomass boilers. Fully automated biomass heating systems are the most popular among domestic users. But semi-automated models with a smaller tank are also available. Usually, the latter are sold like stoves you can install in specific rooms to heat them quickly.

There are three main types of biomass boilers you should know:

  1. Wood pellet boilers. As their name implies, they need pellets to work. Most people associate the term “biomass boiler” with this type.
  2. Biomass boilers that do not burn wood-based pellets. For reference, farmers often opt for biomass boilers that consume oat hull pellets. Or pellets that contain grass and agricultural waste.
  3. Cogeneration systems. Also known as Combined Heat and Power (CHP), this technology uses biomass to reduce carbon emissions. However, they also rely on burning other materials. So, sometimes, these systems create high concentrations of dangerous byproducts.

How Does A Biomass Boiler Work?

Most biomass heating systems have a silo discharger that sends fuel to the burner. When active, the biomass burner burns the pellets and turn them into heat. The boiler then transfers the heat from the combustion chamber into water.

Hot water finally goes into the heat network. In most modern models, several sensors and a panel control the operation of the biomass heating system. Sensors monitor the fuel level and other parameters. Commercial biomass boilers can also have an automatic ash removal system to simplify the ash collection.

Air vents bleed the air from the burner. At the same time, a moving grate reduces clinker formation. Before the smoke makes it out of the chimney and flue, the particulate matter goes through a series of filters. And for security reasons, safety valves are always ready to let excessive steam in the boiler out.

The biomass heating system is safe. However, proper maintenance is critical. Especially when it comes to large systems that have thermostats monitoring the temperature of the augers and operating sprinklers in case of fire.


Maintenance For Biomass And Pellet Boilers

Biomass boilers turn pellets into ash. So, cleaning plays a big part in the maintenance of these heating systems. The self-cleaning models can clean the heat exchanger and the burner on their own. But they also have a higher price.

Automatic cleaning uses an air compressor that releases compressed air through valves. In a matter of minutes, the ashes inside the burner drop to the ash container. Without a self-cleaning feature, the system maintenance can take a couple of hours every other week. Of course, each model offers different solutions that may facilitate ash removal or add user comfort in some way.

Here are other things to consider:

  • An annual inspection is necessary to keep the RHI accreditation as part of the ongoing obligations (Section forty-three, paragraph H).
  • For repairs, you need to contact qualified engineers.
  • Periodic biomass boiler servicing preserves the efficiency of the burner. Thanks to flue gas analysis, regular servicing can prevent situations that often lead to costly repairs. So, make sure the engineers offer you a good maintenance package.

How Biomass Boilers Reduce Your Carbon Emissions

The pellet furnace is environmentally friendly. In the fight against climate change, biomass has emerged as a crucial alternative to gas and oil. This living organic material releases the carbon it has been absorbing during its lifetime when it burns. But unlike other forms of energy, biomass allows for sustainable energy production. Why? Because we can plant new trees and plants to absorb that carbon once more.

From this perspective, biomass is carbon neutral. Direct combustion converts biomass to heat, which can also produce electricity. At this time, almost 60% of the EU’s renewable energy is based on biomass. And electricity production from biomass will probably increase in the next five years.

The UK Government has set the Net Zero Strategy as the goal for 2050. The UK is the biggest importer in the world of wood pellets. And pants play a vital part in helping to tackle climate change. So, it is only natural that the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy only funds programs that support forestry and perennial energy crop production.

By choosing to install a biomass boiler, you actively participate and reduce the overall carbon emissions. After all, what are biomass boilers if not an opportunity to support a sustainable biomass supply?