Switch to Wheat Straw Fuel Lowers Heating Costs

CANADA - Farm-Scape: Episode 2197. Farm-Scape is a Wonderworks Canada production and is distributed courtesy of Manitoba Pork Council and Sask Pork.
calendar icon 19 July 2006
clock icon 3 minute read
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Farm-Scape, Episode 2197

A Manitoba based industrial equipment manufacturer expects to save about 50 thousand dollars a year in heating costs by switching from natural gas to waste wheat straw fuel.

In 1999 Vidir Machine replaced the coal fired heating system at its Arborg manufacturing plant with a three million BTU wheat straw fueled heating system and the company is now installing a smaller one million BTU unit at its manufacturing plant at Morris. The greenhouse gas displacement system, developed by Vidir Biomass Systems, relies on primary combustion followed by secondary combustion to get a complete burn.

Vidir Biomass president Raymond Dueck says the unit is fueled using large round bales of wheat straw.

"We put 16 bales on a conveyer, the conveyer feeds them into the system. We have a shedder that shreds the bales into finer particles and delivers it into the primary combustion chamber where we essentially do a low temperature burn, or create smoke.

Then we take that smoke and send it into a secondary chamber, or afterburner, and we burn it in there at two thousand degrees Fahrenheit which then means we get full and complete combustion, clean gas that we then move over into our heat exchanger to heat water. The water, in turn, heats the facilities.

Since 1999 it has saved us up to 50 thousand dollars a year at our Arborg plant. The Arborg plant would be heated with electric hot water heaters, so hydro power. Now we're using the straw. The estimate is that one bale of straw is worth 200 dollars worth of electricity or about 200 dollars worth of natural gas."

Dueck notes the cost of heating with wheat straw is similar to that of using coal but straw fuel is about 90 percent less expensive than heating with either natural gas or electricity.

For Farmscape.Ca, I'm Bruce Cochrane.

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