Furnace system could boost pellet industry in U.S.

By Lisa Gibson | February 23, 2012

Advanced Bio Heat Co. has developed a wood pellet-fired forced-air furnace that offers more than eight times the British thermal units of typical forced-air furnaces sold in the U.S., according to the company. Advanced Bio Heat expects the system to bolster wood pellet markets and boost business by supplying mills with a steady requirement for stocking inventory during the summer months.

The furnace, designed with the help of WoodMaster Manufacturing Co. in Red Lake Falls, Minn., ranges from 450,000 to 850,000 Btu, compared with the 100,000 Btu available in the U.S. today, according to Advanced Bio Heat. Many furnaces require heat exchangers using hot water piping converted to forced air, but the new system is capable of producing heated air volumes directly in the appliance and blowing the air into the ducting. The system also includes low-profile feedstock hopper modules that can store 8,000 pounds each of wood pellets. The modules consist of a small steel bin on the bottom and a 1-ton super sack in the upper bin.

“It builds very quickly a market for us during the slow time in the summer, stocking customer’s inventories,” said Jerry Brown, marketing and sales manager for Wisconsin-based pellet producer Great Lakes Renewable Energy. “Our local objective is the agricultural growing barns.” The wood pellet industry can tag along with the furnace system’s development and create a high-quantity market, he added. “My intentions are to emphasize the customer get his supply during the summer with the easy-to-store super sack concept on-site for use during the winter months. If they wait until late fall they simply won't get the pellets while we’re answering the call for our residential premium market.”

Great Lakes Renewable Energy has been a supporter of the furnace, already supplying pellets to a similar but non forced-air unit at Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center in Finland, Minn. The first U.S. application of the large forced-air system will be developed in Becker, Minn. For more information on the system, click here.