Tag: wood biomass

ISTC Open House Offers a Look at Heating with Wood Waste

ISTC-LogoA demonstration of a waste wood-powered commercial heating system is scheduled for 10 a.m.- 2 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 7, at the Country Arbors Nursery, 1742 County Rd. 1400 N., Urbana, IL 61802.

The open house and demonstration, organized by the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC), is geared for those interested in learning about the potential benefits for heating agricultural buildings, schools, churches and other structures with wood and other biomass fuels. 

An estimated 1 million tons of renewable wood in Illinois could be used to displace the use of fossil fuels. Wood heating systems could be an attractive option in buildings currently using propane, and where sawdust and other wood wastes could be utilized, saving the cost of disposal.

The ISTC, which is leading this project, is offering free engineering study assistance through the rest of 2017 to gauge the feasibility of this fuel in specific applications.

Lunch will be served during the open house. Please RSVP to schandr@illinois.edu by Tuesday, Dec. 5.

Illinois Sustainable Technology Center Seeks Businesses for Wood Heating Study

Project examines potential cost benefits of converting from propane and other fossil fuels to wood-fired boiler systems.

ISTC-LogoCHAMPAIGN, Ill. – The Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) at the University of Illinois invites businesses throughout the state to apply for a free engineering study to learn about the potential cost savings of using low-value wood residues as heat.

Illinois businesses have until December 31, 2017 to sign up for this offer to evaluate the feasibility of switching from propane or other fuel sources to wood biomass. The ISTC is wrapping up a two-year wood fuel study made possible through a matching grant of $249,328 from the U.S. Forest Service. Partners of the study include Western Illinois University’s Value-Added Sustainable Development Center and the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus.

So far, the ISTC has helped six greenhouse operations of various sizes gain insight into the costs of converting to wood heat, including the return on investment of installing a wood boiler system. Now the ISTC is expanding the scope of its study by offering the opportunity of a free engineering study to all Illinois businesses.

Those selected to participate in the research project will receive assistance with project scoping, engineering and financial analysis. Small-value applications of less than $10,000 may be provided direct cash assistance while larger applications will be provided in-kind support of engineering design and grant preparation.

An estimated one million tons of renewable wood in Illinois could be used to displace the use of petroleum-based propane and other fossil fuels. The ISTC’s project is examining the scientific, economic and cultural aspects that would support the expansion of utilizing low-value wood residues for energy.

Businesses interested in learning more about applying to have a wood fuel engineering study conducted should contact Sriraam Chandrasekaran, lead research engineer of the ISTC, at 217-300-1477 or schandr@illinois.edu.

About the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center
The ISTC’s mission is to encourage and assist citizens, businesses, and government agencies to prevent pollution, conserve natural resources, and reduce waste to protect human health and the environment of Illinois and beyond. ISTC integrates applied research, technical assistance, and information services to advance efforts in the areas of pollution prevention; water and energy conservation; and materials recycling and beneficial reuse. Learn more at www.istc.illinois.edu.

Photo Gallery: Color Point Greenhouse Operations

Related: Color Point Pushes Sustainable Wood Usage with Wood-Fired Greenhouse  

Color Point Pushes Sustainable Wood Usage with Wood-Fired Greenhouse

Wood chip processing operation

Wood chip processing operation at Color Point’s massive greenhouse operation in Granville, IL. View more photos.

By Matthew Kent Baxley

Color Point’s greenhouse operation located in Granville, IL, has been warming more than just their orchids and pansies within their massive 80-acre site.

Tucked away in the rear of the facility are some of the largest wood burning boilers in the entire state of Illinois. These boilers have been supplying nearly the entire year-round heating requirements for the greenhouse and are doing it almost completely through the use of wood waste and urban wood chips.

The Color Point greenhouse (formerly Mid-American Growers) is one of the largest greenhouses in the state of Illinois, providing employment for between 325 and 500 employees depending on the season. The operation began in the early 1970s with only a few small acres, and has grown into one of the most impressive cultivators in the state of Illinois. The  company produces dozens of plant varieties, each in its specific climate-controlled conditions. Most of the plants supply Lowe’s stores across the Midwest.

Maintenance supervisor Damien Kostellic oversees the operation of the three massive 30 million BTU boilers that are used to heat the facility, each capable of putting out 8 MW when fully operational. The boilers run on wood chips pulled from miles around, with daily shipments coming in from as far as the Chicago suburbs. Mr. Kostellic indicated that their burners are able to take almost any variety of wood chips as long as they come in under 3 inches long and less than 30% moisture content. The majority of the wood trucked in comes from used, chipped wood pallets, but a noticeable portion is also derived from local urban wood waste. The boilers typically burn through 900 to 1,000 cubic yards of wood chips during an average operational day. They have a maximum capacity of about 220 tons per day.

After the wood is burned in the boilers, the heat is either transferred throughout the greenhouse through a vast network of water tubes or stored in the 1 million gallon hot water storage tank at approximately 195 degrees Fahrenheit.  In the event of an issue with the boilers, the maintenance staff also has a sizable natural gas backup system.

It is a testament to the efficiency of wood-fired heating that Color Point is continuing to burn wood even with the current availability of low-cost natural gas.

Want to see more?  Check out this gallery of images taken from the tour here:  Color Point Greenhouse Photo Gallery