Free Heat: Save Big Money on Heating Your Facility Using Waste Wood
Free Energy: Save big money on heating your facility by using waste wood. Two leading companies share insights on how they have turned scrap material into heat, which makes for much happier employees.
By Chaille Brindley
Date Posted: 10/1/2013
As the winter months approach, it is time to think about the efficiency of how you heat your facility, particularly if you are located in a part of the country that has real winters. The answer to lowering your heating bill may be found on your shop floor and in the little piles of wood waste that collect in your plant.
For years smart companies have been finding ways to make wood waste pay. And if you want to provide heat for your plant a new biomass furnace from Biomass Combustion Systems of Worcester, Mass. is a good solution to replace legacy systems. Two of the most successful companies in the pallet industry, Millwood Inc. of Vienna, Ohio and Buckeye Diamond Logistics Inc. of South Charleston, Ohio both rely on heat units from Biomass Combustion Systems.
Millwood has installed BCS heaters at eight plants across Ohio, Kentucky and Pennsylvania and has more on the planning board for the future. Brad Arnold, vice president of operations for Millwood, said, “The Biomass Combustion units have been very beneficial and have reduced our heating bill to virtually nothing.” He added, “The units keep the facilities nice and warm and we have no other source of heat except for the weekends where we have to heat our buildings because of sprinkler systems. We have been able to use scrap wood to feed them. The units do a very efficient job and heat the buildings very well.”
Before these BCS heaters, Millwood used gas furnaces, radiant tube heaters as well as older, inefficient wood burners. Millwood burns softwood and hardwood residue material in its units producing virtually free energy. Arnold commented, “The payback period depends on the size of your facility. In some cases it has been two months, in others six months. The payback has been real quick.”
The expense related to heating with natural gas pushed Buckeye Diamond Logistics to explore wood heat with BCS units. Sam McAdow Jr., president of Buckeye, said, “In our situation, it wasn’t so much a payback period compared to a comfort thing because we had stopped running the gas units. And we wanted to provide some comfort to the workers.”
McAdow explained, “Our business requires us to have the doors open and closed a lot as we move material through the facility. We had some catastrophic utility months burning gas, so we decided that we were not going to be able to do that. We went through a winter of not heating the facility. And that isn’t pleasant. So we looked at what we could do to make the environment more usable for employees. And that’s why we chose to put in the Biomass Combustion units.”
Buckeye initially installed two units in its recycling buildings at its South Charleston location and added a third one for its new pallet production plant due to the success of the heaters. Bob Minner , vice president of operations for Buckeye, said, “The Biomass Combustion heaters are very easy to operate, requiring very little operator training. Workers on the floor can keep the units going during breaks.”
Benefits of BCS heaters include significantly slashing heating costs compared to conventional systems, energy independence as you control your raw material supply, increased efficiency, and even lowering carbon emissions.
But, wait, I thought burning wood waste would increase emissions? The answer is no if you compare to other activities used to produce heat energy for your facility. Trees absorb the same amount of carbon during their lifetime as they release when they are burned or rot over time. The only difference between burning and rotting is the rate at which the carbon is released. When wood is burned to displace fossil fuel, new carbon mined from the ground in fossil fuel is not released. Thus burning wood which is already cut recycles existing carbon which will be released anyway rather than increasing the total atmospheric carbon from burning additional fossil fuel.
McAdow said, “Biomass Combustion Systems heaters produce green energy in more ways than one. We save money by using waste wood instead of paying for other forms of heat energy, and we are reducing our environmental impact by burning a renewable resource instead of a fossil fuel.”
When it comes to costs, a ton of your wood residue has the same energy content as 100 gallons of fuel oil. The cost of this energy to you is labor cost and the lost revenue from mulch sales. Since you are already handling this residue there is a small incremental cost of burning while the real savings are in the small mulch profits vs. the value of the energy in that mulch.
The BCS heaters don’t take that much material anyway compared to what a large facility will produce in a year. And if you have to pay to have wood debris and waste taken to a landfill, you can take that expense and turn it into a positive benefit to the bottom line.
As far as service goes, Arnold of Millwood said, “Biomass Combustion Systems has been very responsive to anything we needed including help to get permits required to add units to facilities.” In some localities, local fire code regulations can add an extra level of difficulty in getting approval to put in a new unit. But Charlie Cary of BCS will work with companies to overcome these hurdles.
Upkeep is minimal according to both Millwood and Buckeye. Minner added, “The maintenance staff comes in and does preventative maintenance at the beginning of the heating season and occasionally during that season. Otherwise, these units are trouble free.”
Rickey Hayner , maintenance supervisor at Buckeye, said, “We have never had one of these units go down or had any problems with these units.”
All it takes is someone to feed the machine two or three times per shift by putting waste material into the hopper. Once per week the maintenance department runs a wire brush through the burn tubes to remove soot.
BCS makes installation easy. Heat systems come in three different sizes, a 250,000 BTU per hour unit, a 500,000 BTU per hour unit, or a 800,000 BTU per hour system.
The BCS website has a lot of information about the value of burning wood to heat a facility including cost calculations, local regulation guidance and much more. Visit www.biomasscombustion.com or call 508/798-5970.
Don’t let your wood go to waste. Turn it into profit saving energy by using a BCS heater. Winter will be here before you know it, and adding a BCS unit is one good way to keep employees productive and happy in the winter months. Since some of the most successful companies in the industry use BCS heaters, maybe you should too.
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