Can I burn peanut shells and hay bales too?

There’s no getting around the fact that to meet our heat demand in Canada, we have to burn “stuff”.  For the longest time that’s been fossil fuels in the form of coal, natural gas, propane and fuel oil.   But just because an appliances uses fires to create heat doesn’t mean you can add any old fuel to it and expect it to perform well.

Of course wood has always been there as a source of heat but it hasn’t been until just the last 20 years that we’re able to burn wood in larger quantities without smoking out an entire town.  Even still many domestically available wood burning appliances (stoves, hearths, backyard firepits) are big smokers.  It’s hard to find a Canadian that knows you can burn wood without creating smoke!

With advances in technology of boiler systems (which the Austrians have led globally), we are able to heat homes, large buildings and entire cities with wood.  So if modern wood heating appliances are so “high tech”, why can’t they also burn other bio products like peanut shells, grass clippings, dried corn, hay bales or anything else organic?

You can shove anything that will burn into an outdoor wood boiler and it will likely burn it and give you heat.  It will also give you billowing smoke, ash buildup, super low efficiency and short equipment life.  High efficiency boilers are designed for a certain specification of fuel and going outside that will result in poor performance and uncontrolled emissions.  You don’t burn propane in an oil boiler right?

The Fröling boilers that we provide are designed for their respective fuels.  Pellet boilers will burn wood pellets and we can guarantee efficient operation when doing so.  If you feed in high ash pellets like miscanthus, the boiler will not operate with expected outputs and within specified maintenance intervals.

Likewise if you have a firewood boiler and you throw in hay bales (Yes Farmers, I know that they are supposed to be called “straw bales”), you’ll get unpredictable results.  Firewood should always be burned when it’s dry (~20% Moisture) because water doesn’t burn!

So to answer the initial question: No, you can’t burn peanut shells and hay bales in modern, efficient biomass boilers.