Renewable Heat NY funds 18 woody biomass projects

By Anna Simet | February 18, 2014

Promptly implementing New York’s recently introduced Renewable Heat NY, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced 18 projects that will receive program funding to help install high-efficiency, low-emission wood-fired heating equipment.

The funding is being awarded through the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority’s Energy and Environmental Performance of Biomass-fired Heating Equipment program.

Besides helping cover costs of advanced biomass heating systems, Renewable Heat NY is being designed to facilitate workforce training and manufacturer support for field testing, equipment certification and early stage product development. NYSERDA is developing a Biomass Heating Roadmap for the state, which is slated for release later this year and will assess policy strategies and economic and environmental impacts.

Award recipients to date include:

Clarkson University, Potsdam, $80,000. This project will study the presence of carbon monoxide in wood pellet storage facilities and in the laboratory due to offgassing, and investigate methods to improve air quality in pellet storage areas.

Clarkson University, Saranac Lake, $267,500. Two fully automatic high-efficiency and low- emission wood pellet boilers made by Evoworld will be installed in residential locations by Clarkson University. One boiler will be placed in a shipping container outside one of the homes, while the second boiler will be placed in the basement of a second home. This project will evaluate for two years the performance and emissions of these units under the cold winter conditions.

The Wild Center & Natural History Museum of the Adirondacks, Tupper Lake, $126,000. Recipients will add two 850-gallon tanks of thermal storage to an existing combined pellet boiler and solar thermal project at the Wild Center. The program will evaluate the improved efficiency of this system for two heating seasons, which is expected to approach 85 percent. Clarkson University will perform the third party evaluation.

Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management, Lake Placid, $190,000. This project will study the winter characteristics of wood smoke particulate matter concentrations in a rural valley community over two winters. Monitoring will identify weather conditions leading to high wood smoke, and help address air quality and public health planning needs.

Research Foundation of SUNY Canton, Canton, $163,000. Fully automatic wood pellet heating systems will be installed in three buildings in St. Lawrence County to demonstrate how these systems will operate.

Northeast Forests LLC, Thendara, $98,000. This project will evaluate the costs and processes involved in producing and supplying low-moisture content wood chips. The results will be shared with the forest product community.  

Vincent’s Heating & Fuel Service LLC, Poland, $110,000. Vincent’s will purchase an 8-ton  wood pellet delivery truck to expand its residential and commercial delivery capacity, expanding the bulk wood pellet market in upstate New York. NYSERDA funds will be used to give the truck the pneumatic ability to deliver bulk pellets.

Cornell Cooperative Extension, Ithaca, $66,000. The project will replace older wood stoves and a few outdoor wood boilers in the region with wood pellet stoves and wood pellet boilers that provide higher efficiency and lower emissions.

Finger Lakes Research Conservation and Development Council, Bath, $97,000. This project will evaluate a commercial biomass boiler designed for grasses, examining both thermal efficiency and emissions performance when burning grass pellets produced in the Southern Tier.

University at Buffalo Research Foundation, Buffalo, $300,000. The university is working with Econoburn to develop a commercial two-stage wood hydronic heater with improved combustion chamber design and added sensors and controls to improve efficiency and lower emissions.

Hydronic Specialty Supply, Cassadaga, $227,500. This project will develop residential and commercial firewood gasification boilers that can maintain high efficiency and low emissions due to an innovative staged-combustion design with smart sensors and controls for optimizing performance. These boilers, coupled with thermal storage, are expected to demonstrate results of double the efficiency of conventional wood boiler technologies, and a corresponding decrease in wood use.

Advanced Wood Combustion Technologies LLC, East Aurora, $49,000. The project goal is to create a two-stage retrofit prototype for single stage outdoor wood boilers that can become commercially viable. The goal of the retrofit is to increase thermal efficiency by 40 percent and greatly reduce fine particle and carbon monoxide emissions.

University of Rochester, Rochester, $300,000. The University of Rochester’s Medical Center will study community levels of ambient wood smoke and its link to cardiovascular disease. Previous URMC studies in Rochester found that 30 percent of wintertime fine particulate matter was from wood smoke.

Clarkson University, Syracuse, $102,000. Clarkson will evaluate a commercial pellet boiler that has an electrostatic precipitator emission control technology, which is part of the 8 MMBtu combined-heat-and –power (CHP) system at SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry’s new Gateway building. Emissions from both premium wood pellets and willow pellets will be examined. Data will benefit a companion Cornell University air quality modeling project.

Cornell University, Syracuse, $125,000. This project, in conjunction with the previous Clarkson project, will conduct field measurements of the CHP system at SUNY ESF during the use of two types of wood pellet fuels. The goal is to advance air quality modeling capabilities for use in urban environments.

College of Science and Forestry, Syracuse, $150,000. This project will evaluate hot water extraction and flue gas drying technology as an alternative to conventional wood chip drying methods, as the hot water extraction process is one way to reduce ash content. Replicated results with many species indicate a very significant ash reduction for all conditions studied in this project. Reducing the moisture content in wood chips is essential for better combustion and higher performance for advanced wood chip-fired heating units.

Brookhaven National Lab/The Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management, Upton, $300,000. This project will develop a more accurate and realistic test method for biomass heating systems, which is needed to more accurately evaluate advanced wood heating systems. The lack of such a test remains a significant market barrier for these high-efficiency, low-emissions systems. The work will also result in a lowered cost of testing for manufacturers.

The U.S. EPA’s National Risk Management Research Laboratory has also received $150,000 to help evaluate the efficiency and emissions performance of a pellet hydronic heater using multiple fuel sources including hardwood pellets and three different types of non-woody biomass from New York. This project will inform policy makers at the federal and state level about the performance of non-woody biomass as a fuel source for heating.