New Discovery Makes Wood Pellet Storage Safer

The benefits of bio-based sources for heat and power systems are sometimes called into question, but a new discovery is helping make wood pellets better for the environment.

Potsdam, N.Y.-based Clarkson University found a way to keep carbon monoxide (CO) that builds up in stored wood pellets from releasing into the atmosphere.

Wood pellets can be used as fuel for micro combined heat and power systems.

Clarkson University’s research was funded under Renewable Heat NY, an initiative administered by the New York State Energy and Research Development Authority (NYSERDA).

According to NYSERDA, Clarkson University discovered how CO is produced by stored pellets, and a team led by Prof. Philip Hopke identified a method for processing the pellets during manufacturing to prevent that production of CO.

“[We] are very pleased we were able to identify the chemical pathway that led to the formation of the carbon monoxide and the associated aldehydes,” Hopke said. “It is gratifying to find a simple and relatively inexpensive process that solves the problem and is easy to implement and hope that all pellet mills will rapidly adopt this technology so we never have to worry about the release of harmful gases from stored wood pellets.”

NYSERDA said that Clarkson University has a patent pending for the new process.

Pellet manufacturer Curran Renewable Energy helped test the new technology. NYSERDA said the company now is using the process to manufacture wood pellets. Queenaire Technologies provided technical assistance and prototype equipment for Curran’s test.

Lead image credit: CC0 Creative Commons | Pixabay

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