Second Post from Hudson Valley:
In addition to operating our mobile pellet mill, it is of great interest that HVGE assists in fostering a viable market for grass pellets. Combustion unit compatibility is likely the biggest hurdle facing large-scale use of grass pellets. Higher ash and clinker formation are associated with grass pellets, whereas all premium wood pellets are guaranteed to have less than 1% ash. Therefore, HVGE is involved with analyzing pellet and burn quality and in the future supplying pellets to manufacturers for testing. In Europe we are already seeing innovative stove technologies help to bridge the gap between grass pellets and consumers.
Fortunately, we are already seeing manufacturers incorporating grass pellets into their system designs and warranties. Variable feed rate, automated ash removal and an active burn pot are key features to look for in choosing a stove to combust grass pellets. You can find these features in a variety of stoves ranging from $1,200 to $5,000. Some of the manufacturers that are reported to have stoves to better handle grass pellets include Harman, Enviro, Magnum, Bixby and Quadrafire.
One partner Mighty Maples Farm has been burning grass pellets for home heating since fall 2009. They have reported great success with both their USS stove and modified Englander. Owner Jim Wiest reports: “My most significant finding is blends of as little as 10% commercial hardwood pellets and any generic grass pellets can be effectively burned in most low end stoves designed specifically for wood pellets only… Ash storage and its removal are the limiting factors.”
Finally, I would like to mention the current federal incentive for purchasing higher efficiency stoves called EPA Burn Wise. The tax credit covers 30% of installed costs up to $1,500 and automatically qualifies all pellet stoves because of their inherently high efficiency ratings. This program was initiated in response to emission concerns with burning cordwood and other less efficient resources. Due to poor air quality, many cities are even outlawing certain types of wood burning during the winter months. Burn Wise is due to run out at the end of December, but we hope they continue the program in 2011.