Wood pellets can be used to produce heat in a specially designed stove or boiler. In addition some existing solid fuel (wood, coal or oil) boilers or stoves, can be converted to make use of wood pellets.The process can be as simple as installing a pellet basket in a wood stove or an open fire - see under LINKS for suppliers.
Pellets are mostly manufactured from products from sawmills and other wood processing industries. The materials used are ground wood chips and sawdust. No chemical additives are needed, the natural lignin of the wood itself serving as a binder.
Premium grade wood pellets (such as Stovies ®) are UK manufactured pellets that are produced from pure wood with no contaminants, such as plywood or chipboard glues.
Premium grade pellets are produced in the UK under a voluntary Code of Practice. Other countries have their own standards for the production of wood pellets, some of them compulsory. It is anticipated that there will be a European wide standard for the production of wood pellets soon.
Due totheir low moisture content (about 10%), pellets have a high energy content, similar to high quality coal.
Wood pellets can be used in automatic clean-burning heating appliances as they are manufactured to a consistent size (usually about 20 mm long with a diameter of 6 to 8mm for domestic heating), with low moisture content and high density. It also means that the boiler response time is fast and the technology is controllable without increasing the load on the environment.
This and the fact that they are clean and easy to handle make them particularly suitable for domestic use. Being compressed also means that they take up less room than other forms of wood fuel.
Some other interesting statistics:
2kgs pellets are equivalent to 1 litre oil in heat output
650kgs of pellets require 1 cubic metre of storage
3 cubic metres of pellets is equivalent to 1000l of heating oil
If for example, you are used to ordering 2000l of oil at a time, a similar delivery would be 3900kg of pellets. This would be useful when planning your storage capacity. Please get good advice about planning your store and proximity for the delivery vehicle.
Pellets have the following advantages over other types of wood fuel:-
Lower volume to transport and store (due to higher energy density)
Consistent size and moisture content
Versatility - can be used in stoves and boilers
Less ash and emissions
Are dry and can be stored without degrading
Flow like a liquid and can be used in automatic machinery
Easier to handle
Easier to ignite
Fuel Costs It is always difficult to make comparisons between the cost of heating with different fuels, given that there are a number of different suppliers in the market, different tariffs for day and night time (electricity), different costs according to the quantity purchased (particularly for solid fuels such as logs and coal) etc. In addition, the efficiency of the heating system installed needs to be taken into consideration when calculating a more appropriate cost per useful kWh in pence, rather than per unit cost. Given the number of variables the prices given should be treated with caution, perhaps reflecting the relative costs of heating with each type of fuel as opposed to absolutes.
Relative Cost of Fuel prices per kWh by moisture content as at Feb 2012. Please ring for actual delivered prices