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Study looks at efficiency of of biomass heating

March 28, 2013  By Brandi Cowen

New research shows it may be more economical to use switchgrass pellets rather than fuel oil to heat businesses and homes in the northereastern United States. (Courtesy of Matt Myers/USDA.)

A new research project will explore how the carbon footprint of a greenhouse heated with biomass compares to that of a greenhouse heated with fuel oil.

Paul Adler, an Agricultural Research Service scientist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), is working with Plainview Growers in Pompton Plains, N.J. The nursery sells more than 160 million nursery plants grown from seed every year.



The project follows up on a recent USDA study that revealed it is more economical to use switchgrass pellets than fuel oil to heat homes and businesses in the northeastern United States. Adler calculated the economic costs of switchgrass production throughout the supply chain, as well as greenhouse gas emissions generated by switchgrass production and conversion to heat and power.


“Totaling all costs associated with installing an appropriate residential heating system and fuel consumption, the team concluded that each gigajoule of heat produced using switchgrass pellets would cost $21.36. Using fuel oil to produce the same amount of heat would cost $28.22,” the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service reports.


Full results of the research were published in Environmental Science & Technology.


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