The Pellet Fuels Institute (PFI) is a trade association representing the manufacturers of wood pellets in the United States and the companies and organizations that support them. PFI is dedicated to raising awareness about the benefits of using wood pellets to heat homes, businesses and institutions and ensuring that consistent, high-quality product is readily available in the marketplace.
Beginning in 2021, consumers buying qualifying wood or pellet appliances or larger residential biomass heating systems will be able to claim an income tax credit on 26% of the full cost (purchase and installation) of the unit. Learn more
Wood pellet manufacturing plays a vital role in the broader forest products industry. Wood residues are an inevitable by-product of the production of virtually every product made from wood. Demand for these residues from wood pellet producers adds important revenue streams to the producers of these products and ensures that all of the value of harvested wood is captured. Wood pellets provide a clean, renewable heating fuel option for consumers reducing the dependence on fossil fuels while simultaneously contributing an economic benefit to local economies. Wood pellet manufacturing puts people to work in rural communities all across the country.
A pellet, in ornithology, is the mass of undigested parts of a bird's food that some bird species occasionally regurgitate. The contents of a bird's pellet depend on its diet, but can include the exoskeletons of insects, indigestible plant matter, bones, fur, feathers, bills, claws, and teeth. In falconry, the pellet is called a casting.
The passing of pellets allows a bird to remove indigestible material from its proventriculus, or glandular stomach. In birds of prey, the regurgitation of pellets serves the bird's health in another way, by "scouring" parts of the digestive tract, including the gullet. Pellets are formed within six to ten hours of a meal in the bird's gizzard (muscular stomach).
Ornithologists may collect one species' pellets over time to analyze the seasonal variation in its eating habits. One advantage of collecting pellets is that it allows for the determination of diet without the killing and dissection of the bird. Pellets are found in different locations, depending on the species. In general, these are roosting and nesting sites: for most hawks and owls, under coniferous trees; for barn owls, at the bases of cliffs or in barns and silos; for yet other species of owls, at their burrows or in marsh and field grasses.
Hawk and owl pellets are grey or brown, and range in shape from spherical to oblong or plug-shaped. In large birds, they are one to two inches long, and in songbirds, about half an inch. Many other species produce pellets, including grebes, herons, cormorants, gulls, terns, kingfishers, crows, jays, dippers, shrikes, swallows, and most shorebirds.
The hair, bones and other body parts (such as limbs, skin fragments, and even faeces) of rodents found in owl pellets may carry viable rodent viruses and bacteria. for this reason, they are sometimes sterilized before study. Smith et al. described two pellet-borne outbreaks of Salmonella typhimurium in schools where unsterile pellets were dissected. Rodents tend to avoid owl pellets, apparently due to their infective potential.
In falconry, casting involves giving a hawk roughage, which is regurgitated later to purge and cleanse its crop. Hawks in the wild will produce castings of their own accord, in the form of small pellets of fur, feathers, and other indigestible material, regurgitated hours after it has eaten. Of the roughage used for falcons in captivity, there are two kinds: plumage, and cotton; the latter of which is generally in pellets about the size of hazelnuts, made of soft fine cotton, and conveyed into the hawk's gorge after supper. In the morning, the hawk will have cast them out, at which time they should be examined for color and condition to determine the state of the hawk's body. If they are cast out round, white, without stench, nor very moist, then the hawk is healthy; if otherwise, particularly black, green, slimy, or the like, the hawk is ill.
Today you can choose from a new generation of wood- and pellet-burning appliances that are cleaner burning, more efficient, and powerful enough to heat many average-sized, modern homes. Pellet fuel appliances burn small pellets that measure 3/8 to 1 inch in length.
When choosing a wood- or pellet-burning appliance, it's important to select one that's properly sized for the space to be heated. When an appliance is too big, residents tend to burn fires at a low smolder to avoid overheating, which wastes fuel and is one of the biggest causes of air pollution. An under-sized unit will not provide sufficient heat. You should discuss your heating needs with a reputable dealer. A good rule-of-thumb is that a stove rated at 60,000 British Thermal Units (Btu) can heat a 2,000-square-foot home, while a stove rated at 42,000 Btu can heat a 1,300-square-foot space.
The location of the appliance (and chimney) will influence how well heat is distributed and conserved in your home. Most wood- and pellet-burning appliances are essentially space heaters, and should be put in the room where you spend most of your time. Ideally, there should be a way for heat to circulate to the rest of the house, such as a fan or blower assembly.
For safety and to maximize efficiency, you should consider having a professional install your wood- or pellet-burning appliance. A professional will carefully evaluate everything from your chimney to your floor protection. A certified professional can also help you choose the best appliance to heat your home. The National Fireplace Institute maintains a list of certified industry professionals.
Masonry heaters are also known as "Russian," "Siberian," and "Finnish" fireplaces. They produce more heat and less pollution than any other wood- or pellet-burning appliance. Masonry heaters include a firebox, a large masonry mass (such as bricks), and long twisting smoke channels that run through the masonry mass. Their fireboxes are lined with firebrick, refractory concrete, or similar materials that can handle temperatures of over 2,000F (1,093C).
A wide variety of masonry heater designs and styles are available. Larger models resemble conventional fireplaces and may cover an entire wall. Smaller models take up about as much space as a wood or pellet stove. They can be custom-built or purchased as prefabricated units. Some large designs may cost $5,000 or more. Plans and kits are available, but they are not easy do-it-yourself projects and require masonry expertise.
Pellet fuel appliances are more convenient to operate than ordinary wood stoves or fireplaces, and some have much higher combustion and heating efficiencies. As a consequence of this, they produce very little air pollution. In fact, pellet stoves are the cleanest solid fuel, residential heating appliance. Pellet stoves that are certified by the EPA are likely to be in the 70% to 83% efficiency range. Pellet stoves have heating capacities that range between 8,000 and 90,000 Btu per hour. They are suitable for homes as well as apartments or condominiums.
Most pellet stoves cost between $1,700 and $3,000. However, a pellet stove is often cheaper to install than a conventional wood-burning heater. Many can be direct-vented to the room and do not need an expensive chimney or flue. As a result, the installed cost of the entire system may be less than that of a conventional wood stove.
Pellet fuel appliances are available as freestanding stoves or fireplace inserts. Freestanding units resemble conventional wood heaters in that they generally heat a single room well, but not adjacent rooms unless they have a fan to force the warm air into those other spaces. Pellet-fireplace inserts fit into existing fireplaces. Several companies now make pellet-fired furnaces and boilers for replacement of, or a supplement to, gas- or oil-fired furnaces and boilers in residential space heating systems.
All pellet fuel appliances have a fuel hopper to store the pellets until they are needed for burning. Most hoppers hold between 35 and 130 pounds (16 and 60 kilograms [kg]) of fuel, which will last a day or more under normal operating conditions. A feeder device, like a large screw, drops a few pellets at a time into the combustion chamber for burning. How quickly pellets are fed to the burner determines the heat output. The exhaust gases are vented by way of a small flue pipe that can be directed out a sidewall or upwards through the roof. More advanced models have a small computer and thermostat to govern the pellet feed rate.
Pellet appliances usually require refueling only once a day. However, because the fuel is compressed, the bagged pellets can be difficult to lift. Some models use bulk-filled storage systems and are fully automatic.
Most pellet appliance exteriors (except glass doors) stay relatively cool while operating, reducing the risk of accidental burns. Pellet stoves burn fuel so completely that very little creosote builds up in the flue, posing less of a fire hazard.
Unfortunately, pellet appliances are also more complex and have expensive components that can break down. Moreover, they need to be cleaned by the homeowner on a weekly basis and by a professional on an annual basis. They also require electricity to run fans, controls, and pellet feeders. Under normal usage, they consume about 100 kilowatt-hours (kWh) or about $9 worth of electricity per month. Unless the stove has a back-up power supply, the loss of electric power results in no heat and possibly some smoke in the house.
For pellet-fuel appliances, it is very important to follow the manufacturer's instructions for operation and maintenance. Inspect fans and motors regularly, and maintain them properly. Manufacturers advise removing unused pellets from the stove hopper and feed system at the end of the heating season. This reduces the chance of rusting, which can cause expensive damage to the appliance. It also minimizes difficulties in lighting the appliance at the start of the next heating season. Clean the flue vent on a regular basis to prevent soot buildup. 041b061a72