Green Innovations

Developing renewable and clean technology companies in New York

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Solid Biofuel Combustion: The efficiency and emissions debate

A symposium on biofuels combustion efficiency and emissions will be a featured topic at the upcoming Northeast Regional Meeting of the American Chemical Society to be held at SUNY Potsdam on June 3, at 1 p.m.  Given the recent local interest in proposed DEC rules on wood boilers and the likelihood that EPA will enact similar rules soon, the topic is gaining the attention of municipal planners, as well as the development and environmental community.

Philip K. Hopke, Bayard D. Clarkson Distinguished Professor and the director of the Center for Air Resources Engineering and Science at Clarkson University, and Ellen Burkhard, senior project manager at the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), are the session organizers.

For registration information, please see

While there is an increasing interest in the combustion of solid biofuels (i.e., wood pellets, wood chips, crop pellets) to mitigate global warming and reduce costs relative to fossil fuels, conventional outdoor wood boilers can waste more than half the energy of wood fuel and emit significant amounts of pollutants. Advanced wood-boiler units can achieve thermal efficiencies greater than 80 percent and produce less than five percent of the particulate emissions of inefficient wood boilers typically used in the U.S.

These advanced systems are commonly called staged-combustion or gasification boilers. There are state-of-the-art combustion systems that provide high thermal efficiency and greatly reduced emissions, but they have not yet been widely used or characterized for their performance in the United States. To respond for the interest in these systems, studies have been initiated across the northeastern states to characterize existing boilers as well as the newer designed high-efficiency systems.

This symposium will bring together researchers who are currently involved in the study of wood combustion systems and their impacts on emissions. The results of studies on both conventional and advanced boiler systems will be presented and provide the opportunity for researchers in this field to share results with each other.