Sunday, January 13, 2008

Practical use of Bio Mass

For the past two winters I have been burning cord wood in a Greenwood Technologies high efficiency boiler which runs 24/7 generating up to 300k btu's per hour to heat a 6600 sq ft shop and a tunnel and eventually our home. By burning some of the 6000 acres of fire killed pine forest, we are cleaning up the area for regrowth, saving the cost of propane and thus not putting additional fossil fuel CO2 into the atmosphere. It is my understanding that the amount of CO2 going into the admosphere is about the same if you burn the wood or it decomposes. By burning it in a ceramic high efficiency boiler there is no visible smoke after a few minutes of initial burn.

I am not a scientist, but would be glad to work with any student wishing to study the process.

Thank you.


Michael E. Webber, Ph.D. said...

If the fire-burned wood decomposes anaerobically (because it's buried by dirt, for example), then it would emit methane (CH4), not CO2. Since CH4 is at least 21 times worse than CO2 in terms of its global warming potential, by burning it into CO2 you are sparing the world those extra CH4 emissions. However, the wood emits much more CO2 per useful BTU of heat than propane. So, what you're doing by burning wood for heat is worse than burning propane, but because subsequent wood growth consumes CO2 and the avoided decomposition spares us CH4, my bet is your lifecycle CO2 balance is favorable with this approach. Plus, you're saving some serious bank.

Greenboiler said...


Thank you for the information on anaerobic decomposition of wood, but how about aerobic decomposition? All of these trees are in Colorado at elevation 7500 ft and the ground is decomposed granite - very little dirt and none of the trees would ever be buried.

The big difference is that I'm not burning fossil fuel which has tied up the carbon. The bank savings are about $4000/season.