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First ISO standard for safe handling of wood pellets in homes launched

Many households in Europe and elsewhere heat their homes with a pellet boiler. However, awareness of the risks that exist if wood pellets are not properly stored and handled is often lacking. A new first-of-its-kind ISO standard, aimed at installers, suppliers and plant designers, has now been launched in a bid to minimize these risks.

A pallet of pellets delivered to a residential customer in Sweden. A recently published ISO-standard outlines the principles and requirements for safe handling and storage of wood pellets in homes and other smaller plants. The first-of-its-kind ISO standard is aimed at installers, suppliers and residential pellet storage designers to address and mitigate the risk of fires, dust explosions, off-gassing, oxygen depletion, damage to appliances and buildings through swelling of pellets and other applicable health risks. The new standard will be discussed at the upcoming Nordic Pellets conference in Sweden.

The standard, “Solid biofuels – Safety of solid biofuel pellets – Safe handling and storage of wood pellets in residential and other small-scale applications (ISO 20023:2018)” contains principles and requirements for safe handling and storage of wood pellets in homes and other smaller plants. The standard was jointly developed by 17 countries with the working group lead by RISE Research Institutes of Sweden and Swedish Standards Institute (SIS).

It is very important that there are clear routines for how the pellets should be handled during transport and storage and that the plant is properly designed to minimize the risks for both fire and dust explosion as well as for choking and poisoning. When installers, suppliers and plant designers comply with the standard, relevant safety knowledge is communicated and the risks are managed and minimized, said Anders Lönnermark, Chairman of ISO’s working group for the safety of solid biofuels and researcher at RISE Research Institutes of Sweden in Borås.

The standard covers the supply chain from loading of the delivery truck, requirements of delivery trucks, connections to the end user’s store and the delivery process. The document addresses the risk of fires, dust explosions, off-gassing, oxygen depletion, damage to appliances and buildings through swelling of pellets and other health risks applicable to wood pellets according to ISO 17225-2.

Importantly, it also covers the design and construction of pellet storage systems as well as requirements for the installer to inform the end user of important safety routines – such as the conditions and necessary precautions to be able to enter a storage room for pellets.

Bioenergy today is the largest energy type in Sweden, where wood pellets make up a significant part. Standardization plays an important role in reducing the risks that may arise during the use and handling of this fuel. We also have a corresponding standard proposal for commercial and industrial applications that have just gone out on referral, said Annika Koningen, Project Manager SIS.

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