A systems approach to biomass

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Buying a biomass boiler is not just a case of purchasing the boiler itself.

In this article, we will look at a systems approach to the total project's requirements. This involves acquiring and integrating the boiler, considering the fuel supply, handling and storage arrangements, ash removal and disposal, as well as the heat storage and distribution system. It also requires careful consideration to the project management, in order to ensure your installation goes as smoothly as possible.

Multi fuel or single fuel source?

Taking the decision as to which type of boiler to install is closely tied to the choice of fuel, or fuels. Does the boiler require a multi-fuel capability like the Guntamatic range offers? this has a huge impact at the design stage, in order to define the fuel delivery system and in establishing the whole system's footprint.

It is essential that these two decisions are made in synchronisation, as each has a the choice of boiler and fuel, along with the delivery system to the site. This is paramount not only to the success of the installation but also in keeping the whole life operating costs of the system down.

The types and variety of wood fuel that boiler options can seem overwhelming and confusing. However it is important for the customer/client to focus on what is important to THEM.

A biomass boiler solution is not an off the shelf solution, where one size fits all.  A solution that works ideally for one site's requirements and idiosyncrasies may be sub-optimal for another. So it is important that a potential installer asks the right questions of the client and the client asks the right questions of the installer.

Choices of automated (wood chip/wood pellet/grain/miscanthus), or manual (log) boilers make a huge difference in operating costs, fuel handling and storage, as well as the frequency the fuels store needs to be filled.

The choice and type of wood fuel should be carefully considered, along with access to local timber supplies, woodland or hedges that can be utilised in a way that is the most cost effective and convenient. A good installer will carefully consider this and discuss it with the client before a decision is made into the type of boiler system to be installed.

How big?

Another key factor associated with successful biomass installations and the correct boiler size in kW is the both the heat load and the heat profile of the building or premises to be supplied.

Biomass boiler heating systems run most efficiently with the use of a thermal store, or heat reservoir/battery. Whilst the heat load represents the total heat demand over a given 24 hour period, the heat profile shows exactly how much heat is required at certain times of day.

It is fairly obvious that a family with parents leaving for work and children going to school, then returning in the evening, will have an entirely different profile of heat being used compared to a leisure centre with a swimming pool, or a hospital or care home does.

The thermal store acts as a reservoir or smoothing circuit to balance this heat profile, and enables the boiler to run at its most efficient. This is due to the sensors in the buffer tank which tell the boiler to fire up when temperatures in the buffer tank drop below a pre defined temperature. The boiler then works efficiently, boosting the latent temperature, rather than starting from cold.

Such efficiency is also enhanced by installing modulating boilers – like the Guntamatic range - ones who can reduce their outputs to just 26% to match demand without losing peak 96% efficiency.

The right components for the job

Selecting a solution is not just about selecting the best components and putting them together. Selecting the 11 best football players in England does not necessarily produce the best team.  It is how those players work together that gives the team it’s overall performance, whereby the sum of the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

This does not mean that you use sub-optimal components.  What it means that the performance characteristic of each individual component of a wood fuel boiler system has to be selected so that it performs at its optimum efficiency in delivering the required heat output. It requires considerable expertise and experience to pull all this together into a cost-effective installation for the customer.

Whole life support

The range of boilers systems designed, supplied, project managed, installed, commissioned and maintained by Treco represents 50 years of design experience by the Austrian chip as boiler manufacturer Guntamatic.

Guntamatic are based in Upper Austria and the whole region has become one of the main centres of excellence for of wood fuelled heating technology. This means Treco as a company have a wealth of experience to draw on in supporting the customer during the initial supply, installation and working life.

It’s important to remember that a well designed and engineered boiler and installed system will have a long in-service life if properly maintained and fuelled. This adds considerably to its cost effectiveness, and it is therefore equally as important that the customer is confident that they will be fully supported.

Treco - a system to install your system

Within Treco itself, we have an ever-growing well of experience, and heavy re-investment in training and continued professional development. From heating engineers with a lifetime of installing experience to graduates fresh from University with new ideas and the latest grasp of technology in this fast-changing world. We are a system in our own right, linked by complete end-to-end project management of every installation undertaken.

The most important piece of the system is the customer, and a well installed system speaks for itself.  We encourage site visits, to ‘see something similar’ and with over 500 installations undertaken during the 8 years we have been in business across the UK, we are able to offer potential customers a wide range of opportunities to see first -hand wood fuel at work.

Next week Treco Ltd will be at EBEC, the European Bioenergy Exhibition and Conference at Stoneleigh, Warwickshire.  We’ll have a range of products and boiler son our stand, and members of the team available and keen to talk through our systems approach and ideas with potential customers.  We look forward to meeting you!

Do you have a biomass or low carbon project?

Speak to our biomass team today

01884 250 790

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