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What is a biomass boiler? A Comprehensive Guide

GlenFarrow boiler and auto-feed

Approximately 8.5 million tonnes of wood is chucked into landfill sites in the UK every year. This wood can be used to fuel biomass boilers which can provide essential resources such as heat and hot water. Biomass boilers are a great way for businesses to use renewable heating. 

What is a Biomass Boiler? 

A biomass boiler is an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional fossil fuel boilers, as it uses organic materials such as wood chip, logs or waste wood as fuel to heat your commercial space and provide hot water. 

Industrial or commercial businesses that have waste wood, such as pallets from deliveries, can use this as a free source of fuel. This is a significant benefit, as it reduces energy costs even further. 

How do they differ from gas or electric boilers?

If you’re considering making the switch from a gas or electric boiler, you’ll want to know what differences to expect – whether that’s in the installation or how it works. These boilers tend to be larger and require more space for the fuel feed, ash removal system and storage for the fuel. 

Types of Biomass Boilers 

We offer batch-fed biomass boilers for commercial use, which are operated by manually placing the fuel into the boiler. For an automatic alternative, we offer the GlenFarrow Auto-feed which automatically feeds wood chip into our GlenFarrow biomass boilers.   

Our GlenFarrow batch-fed boiler range includes the GF210 and the GF295 biomass boilers, which can be used as standalone or combined in series for a great result. We are also a Heizomat installer of automatic wood chip biomass boiler systems. 

How Do GlenFarrow’s Biomass Boilers Work? 

Our biomass boilers are batch-fed, with the option to convert to automatically fed with a GlenFarrow Auto-Feed. Here is the process for both options. 

Batch-fed boiler process:

  • Turn on the biomass boiler
  • All fuel gets manually loaded into the chamber of the boiler via the front door
  • Fuel is ignited, and the boiler door is then closed
  • The combustion of fuel creates heat which warms water inside the boiler to a set temperature
  • This water is then pumped to any premises connected to the heating system 
  • Additional manual fuelling of the boiler is then required, depending on demand 

Auto-feed boiler process:

  • The GlenFarrow Auto-Feed can either be retrofitted to an existing boiler or supplied with a new batch-fed boiler
  • The Auto-Feed works by attaching to the body of the boiler chamber and automatically feeding wood chip into it
  • Turn on the biomass boiler
  • Load some batch-fed fuel into the boiler chamber, ignite and close the door
  • Wood chip is loaded into the auto-feed hopper
  • The system automatically feeds fuel into the boiler as required, depending on set parameters 
  • The combustion of fuel creates heat which warms the water inside the boiler to a set temperature 
  • This water is then pumped to any premises connected to the heating system

Once installed, we provided full training during the commissioning of the boiler along with relevant operation manuals.

Check out our guide on how a biomass boiler works in more detail.

What Fuel Do They Use?

When it comes to choosing the right biomass boiler fuel, it’s crucial to give it some serious thought. Taking the time to carefully consider your options will ensure that you make the best decision for your business.

Wood chip: Virgin wood and waste wood can be processed into wood chip form, by utilising wood chipping equipment such as the GlenFarrow wood chipper). This equipment can create a specific size of chip, such as G30 or G50 standardised sizes, depending on your Biomass Boilers’ fuel requirements. 

Wood logs: Available in both hardwood and softwood forms, wood logs are the most basic form of biomass. They have to be manually loaded into the chamber of the Biomass Boiler. It is critical to ensure the correct moisture content suitable for your appliance to avoid excessive smoking and tar issues. 

Waste Wood: Depending upon your Biomass Boiler’s specifications, utilising waste wood could be a great cost-effective option for fuel. It can come in many forms such as pallets, packaging and general wood waste.  

Benefits of Using Biomass Boilers 

  • Increased energy efficiency: Biomass boilers are highly efficient in converting organic materials into heat energy, resulting in reduced fuel consumption and lower energy costs.
  • Renewable and sustainable energy source: Biomass is derived from organic materials, making it a renewable and sustainable alternative to fossil fuels.
  • Reduced carbon emissions: Biomass boilers produce significantly lower carbon emissions compared to traditional fossil fuel boilers, helping to mitigate climate change and improve air quality.
  • Versatile and reliable heating solution: Biomass boilers can be used for various heating applications, including commercial and industrial settings, providing a reliable and consistent heat supply throughout the year.
  • Economic benefits for local communities: Investing in biomass boilers supports local economies by creating jobs in the biomass fuel supply chain, such as harvesting, processing, and transportation, thereby contributing to regional development and reducing dependency on imported fuels.

Are Biomass Boilers Cheaper to Run?

By using biomass as a renewable energy source for your heating needs, you can potentially save thousands on your fuel costs. In fact, you can save even more if you opt to replace electric heating appliances with biomass for your heating requirements. 

This remarkable alternative not only offers substantial financial benefits but also contributes to a greener and more sustainable future. Embracing biomass as a replacement for traditional energy sources demonstrates your commitment to reducing carbon emissions and preserving our planet for generations to come.

Installation and Maintenance of Biomass Boilers 

Proper installation is crucial to ensure the boiler operates efficiently and safely. 

Once installed, ongoing maintenance is vital to keep the biomass boiler running optimally. Proper maintenance following the manufacturer’s schedule will extend the life of the biomass boiler and ensure it operates safely and at peak efficiency.

The regulations for servicing biomass boilers that have been accredited by the RHI have changed from the 1st of April 2022. This is now taken over by HETAS. All of our biomass engineers are fully HETAS registered for all of our boilers, which means they are thoroughly maintained. 

Is it a good choice for your business?

A renewable energy source with cheaper fuel costs makes biomass boilers a great cost and carbon-saving solution for commercial property owners. 

There are various types of boilers, including batch-fed and automated. To make sure you get the right boiler to match your heating demand and location, speak to the installers at GlenFarrow today. With us, you get professional advice and support to ensure a successful transition to your new heating system.

Our Case Studies

GF210 Biomass Boiler System | Pearson Packages: The client wanted to upgrade their fossil fuel-fired space heating system and find a way to utilise their excess wood product. We responded by installing a GlenFarrow GF210 biomass boiler. This boiler can emit optimal heat output and can use waste wood products for fuel. 

GlenFarrow Biomass Boiler Installation | Tracey Estate: This client wanted to upgrade their systems and expand their heating network. We recommended using a GlenFarrow 210 biomass boiler with fan coil units and pipework controls in a local heat network.  

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I choose the right biomass boiler for my business?

When choosing a biomass boiler, consider heating needs and area size. Assess fuel availability and cost, boiler type, efficiency, and maintenance.  Check for compliance with regulations. Compare prices and after-sales support before deciding.  

Are biomass boilers worth it?

Yes, biomass boilers are worth it due to their environmental benefits, cost-effectiveness, and renewable nature.

Are biomass boilers carbon-neutral?

Biomass boilers can be considered carbon-neutral under specific circumstances. While burning biomass releases carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere, it is important to note that the CO2 emitted during combustion is part of a natural carbon cycle.

Are you looking for advice on biomass boilers? Contact our expert team who are happy to help with any queries you may have!