Biomass: The Sustainable, Renewable Fuel Choice
At Harman, we talk about biomass fuels a lot. If you are curious what qualifies as a biomass fuel, we’ve compiled this primer to answer that question and more.
What is Biomass?
“Biomass” is a term used to describe organic substances that can be converted into usable energy. Biomass used to produce heat is often referenced as “thermal biomass.”
You are familiar with simple cordwood, which is biomass fuel burned in a stove or fireplace insert. Pellets are also biomass fuel. They are produced from sawdust and scrap wood derived from logging and manufacturing, forest debris, and crop waste. The organic matter is dried and pressed into pellets that deliver long-lasting, clean-burning, green heat when burned in modern pellet stoves and inserts.
Advantages of Biomass Fuels
Because biomass fuels – cordwood and pellets – are derived from renewable sources, they are one of the most sustainable sources of energy. Cordwood simply involves felling trees, splitting the wood, and storing it for use. For pellets, waste material from manufacturing facilities or logging is compressed into fuel and bagged for use, thereby reducing scrap materials sent to landfills.
Fuel oil, on the other hand, is derived from petroleum or crude oil, which is also used to make gasoline for our cars, asphalt, certain plastics and many other materials and products used every day. This finite fossil fuel is extracted from the earth through drilling and fracking, transported through pipelines, rail cars or tanker trucks to refineries for processing, and then distributed to fuel oil or propane services for delivery to homes. When compared to biomass fuel, it’s an involved, labor- and energy-intensive process.
The Right Stove
Truth be told, biomass fuel is only as good as the appliance it’s burned in, meaning the stove or fireplace insert needs to be outfitted with technologies that enable a clean burn and low emissions.
EPA-certified Harman wood stoves are outfitted with FireDome technology, which produces both primary and secondary combustion. So in addition to burning wood, the stove re-burns the smoke and exhaust for super-efficient fires and low emissions.
Due to high burn efficiencies and the density of the pellets, Harman pellet stoves and inserts burn clean and expel extremely low particulate emissions. With efficiency rates as high as 87 percent, the result is “green heat” with very little ash to clean up and virtually no creosote buildup. Harman pellet stoves also make heating with pellets as convenience as possible with programmable thermostats, automatic cleaning cycles, and key technologies like the Pellet Pro System™ and Exhaust Sensing Probe™.
By going green, you also get green in return. The U.S. Biomass Tax Credit has been reinstated for all eligible product purchases from Jan. 1, 2015 – Dec. 31, 2016. You can earn back $300 on biomass heating products that meet the 75 percent efficiency requirement.
Want to learn even more about pellet stove options? Here are Answers to Your Questions about Pellet Stoves.