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New Biomass Fuel Standards Released

Posted: October 17, 2014

PA Fuels for Schools Wood Fuel Standard Released for Comments

The PA Fuels for Schools and Communities group has released a draft fuel specification standard for wood fuels, suitable for use in commercial biomass combustion facilities.  The standard is intended to serve as a guideline for biomass system owners looking to source fuel, for fuel producers, and for manufacturers seeking a reliable third party fuel description for their system design.  

"We anticipate that commercial biomass boiler systems will be able to utilize one of these standards as a basis for identifying and ordering their fuel supply" says PA Fuels for Schools chair Mike Palko.  He further adds that "new owners will be able to use these standards to guide their equipment and fuel sourcing decisions."  Often, new biomass system owners are confused by the variable and custom nature of many fuel suppliers, and are tempted to turn back to the simplicity of "number 2 fuel oil" or some other non-renewable energy source.  The Fuels for Schools standards will allow them to easily order a specific grade of fuel, knowing that what they get is what they need.  

Three fuel categories are defined in the standard: medium clean chip, short rotation chip, and medium variable chip.  Details of these standards are as follows:  

Draft Wood Fuel Standard and Specification, PA Fuels for Schools and Communities

(October, 2014)

CATEGORY A: Medium Clean Chip

  • >90% hardwood, "virgin wood" only
  • no greater than 50% moisture(wet basis)
  • energy content greater than 5000 btu per lb (HHV) as received
  • smallest size 0.25" (max dimension), no sander dust or wood flour
  • largest size not to exceed   3" x 3" x 1/2"
  • no bark, leaves, twigs etc.
  • overs not to exceed 1% by weight
  • ash content not to exceed 3%

 CATEGORY B: Short Rotation (SRWC) Chip

  • Short rotation woody crop, "virgin wood" only
  • moisture no greater than 50% (wet basis)
  • energy content greater than 5000 btu per lb (HHV) as received
  • smallest size 0.25" (max dimension), no sander dust or wood flour
  • largest size not to exceed   3" x 3" x 1"
  • can contain bark, leaves, twigs
  • overs not to exceed 1% by weight
  • ash content not to exceed 3%

 CATEGORY C: Medium Variable Chip

  • hardwood or softwood, "virgin wood" only
  • moisture no greater than 50% (wet basis)
  • energy content greater than 4500 btu per lb (HHV) as received
  • smallest size 0.25" (max dimension), no sander dust or wood flour
  • largest size not to exceed   3" x 3" x 1/2"
  • can contain bark, leaves, twigs
  • overs not to exceed 5% by weight
  • ash content not to exceed 5%

note 1: for the purpose of this spec, "hardwood" refers to higher density species of hardwoods such as oak and maple, rather than aspen, poplar, etc.

note 2: fuels must not contain any dirt, rocks, or debris

note 3: fuels must not contain any paint, glue, chemical treatments, or other manufactured or hazardous materials (no C/D waste)

 

The PA Fuels for Schools group is an open working group that promotes sustainable use of biomass for energy in Pennsylvania.  For more information, visit http://www.pafuelsforschools.psu.edu.  The group carries out a variety of initiatives in addition to the development of the fuel standards.  

All are encouraged to attend the National Bioenergy Day Fuels Forum in Meadville on October 22 (see related article) to discuss and provide input on these standards before they are finalized.  Comments on the standards can also be sent to the PA Fuels for Schools Chair at mipalko@state.pa.us