By the close of ISH 2017, three thematic trends seem clear when it comes to biomass energy solutions; “bad-mass” burners, particulate matter (PM) abatement and micro combined heat and power (CHP). Whilst none are new conceptually, all seem to be new commercially.
Beginning with the latter, companies like Austria-headed heat appliance manufacturer ÖkoFEN used ISH to officially launch its modular e-smart pellet boiler concept. As noted at a sneak preview a few weeks ago in Wels, Austria, it is no coincidence that Germany represents a true test market for its integrable e-pellet concept given the high penetration of residential solar photovoltaic (PV).
Another company with micro-CHP on show was the French-Irish-Swiss company Woodco. Whereas ÖkoFEN uses a Stirling engine, Woodco uses a low-temperature organic rankine cycle (ORC) unit developed by its Swiss partner. And although the biomass boilers are manufactured in Ireland, the company has close to 100 percent export, to markets in Canada, France, Switzerland, UK and the US.
On the matter of particulate matter (PM), a number of interesting developments could be found. Carola Clean Air (CCA), a German spin-off from Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT) that at ISH 2015 launched its electro-static precipitator (ESP) concept, are now in full commercial operation.
Available both as a retro-fit to existing biomass boilers as well as integrated with biomass boiler OEM’s, a key feature is its automatic self-adjustment ability guaranteeing PM reduction to under statutory limits under the precondition that the boiler is operated with specification fuels and in the given operation range.
Apart from being one of three biomass related ISH Design Award winners, German stove manufacturer Wodtke highlighted two ceramic filter solutions available for its one of its new pellet stoves. Operating on two entirely different principles, a price differential reflects the amount of “work” a consumer would have to invest. The “work” in the budget version involves removing the filter and washing it from time to time to remove particle build-up – a dishwasher does the job too as it would for a cooker extraction fan filter, whereas the upmarket version is entirely work-free.
When talking about markets most of the biomass boiler companies mentioned the UK with the second phase of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) as being of particular interest but also other countries such as France, Canada, and Poland frequently came up. For the latter, the motivation is, according to Polish biomass boiler Ekogren, to upgrade the country’s residential solid fuel boiler stock in an effort to curb smoke and PM pollution.
New larger biomass burners could also be spotted, indeed it was hard to miss on the Pellasx stand. Known for pellet burners, the Polish burner specialists had an entirely new pre-commercial moving grate style burner for difficult pellet fuels such as agro-pellets on display.
The new burner is estimated to be out on the market by the end of the year. What it looks like and how it works is the subject of a coming article. And if you couldn’t make it to Frankfurt this year for ISH, then a new opportunity is 12-16 March 2019 for the next edition.