My name is Gerry Ruestow
I am a consultant working with CCE of Delaware County in our Grass Bio-Energy Project. This project began in 2008 as a collaboration with The Catskill Watershed Corporation to explore and foster the use of Grass Bio-mass as a heat source suitable for homes and small commercial installation.
We began with an outside hydronic furnace and a pellet stove installed in the Town of Franklin Highway Building which also houses the town meeting hall.
As we learned about the challenges of burning grass pellets we added four outside furnaces and five inside pellet stoves. The last two installations recently came on line. Our next step might be a commercial pellet furnace to gauge the feasibility of using Grass in a higher btu situation.
The Delaware County Grass Bio-Energy is a cooperative effort between Delaware County Cooperative extension and Catskill Watershed Corporation to explore the use of grass bio-mass as a reliable and renewable heat source.The anticipated advantages of Grass as fuel are:
¨ Local energy loop
¨ Very efficient energy conversion
¨ Existing infrastructure on farms to harvest haycrop
¨ Compatible with livestock and crop operations
¨ Maintains open space
¨ Annually renewable crop
We have been working with EnviroEnergy LLC of Wells Bridge NY who have been making Grass Pellets for three years and have improved the the quality of their product to be very competitive in quality and btu content with premium wood pellets. The ongoing issue is of course the higher ash content of grass pellets as compared with wood pellets. Some appliances work better than others in handling the ash load.
The other issue we are seeing is the fly ash deposits in heat exchangers. This has to be manually cleaned on a regular interval on the units we are demonstrating. We have seen some new units in the last year that offer self cleaning modes. This will help the adoption of grass pellet units for home owners.
This industry is still in it’s infancy even if it seems we have been working on it for quite a while. As it grows we need to be ahead of the learning curve for adopters and especially regulators.