What is the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) per pound of coal compared to pound of wood that is released into the air when each is burned?

The amount of carbon dioxide released from coal and wood depends on the type of coal or wood consumed and the moisture contents of both. A very rough estimate is that for each unit of coal or wood consumed, 1.5 units of CO2 are released. Higher-grade coal has higher carbon content so the amount of CO2 released per unit mass would also be higher.

The major difference between the carbon released from burning coal and wood is that …

Wood Heat for Greenhouses

Outdoor wood boilers are increasingly subject to state and local and regulations aimed at minimizing air pollution. Photo courtesy of Vern Grubinger



Wood is an attractive alternative fuel for greenhouse heating – it is renewable, locally produced, and usually less expensive than other fuels. While wood is not for everyone, an increasing number of growers are turning to it as an economical heating alternative for their facilities. Fuel wood, waste wood and biomass are all potential sources of heat …

Biomass Combustion

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Research Summaries

Case Studies

Introduction to Biomass Combustion

Combustion of biomass used to heat greenhouses.

Fire, or combustion of biomass, is arguably the oldest known and most widely used controllable energy source on earth. In recent years, rising costs of fossil fuels and the development of advanced equipment have made biomass combustion an economical, efficient, and practical energy source.

Principles of Combustion

Combustion is familiar to all of us, but many do not realize that it is essentially a chemical reaction. In the process of combustion, two ingredients …

Using Combustion Heat for Energy

The end result of combustion is useful energy – typically in the form of heat, power, or both heat and power. This can be used to provide space heating for buildings, process heating for industrial needs, electricity for on-site use or sale to the grid, or the simultaneous generation of heat and electricity (so called “combined heat and power,” or CHP). Most commonly, the combustion heat is captured in the form of hot water, hot air or steam.

Most farms …

Biomass Feedstocks for Combustion

Thought about growing a biomass crop for combustion fuel on your farm? This article offers three questions farmers can ask to evaluate growing energy producing  combustion crops. It examines wood, woody crops and grasses in more detail.

Play button  Find these topics and many other related Farm Energy media resources at the Farm Energy Media archive.

Switchgrass briquettes a combustion fuel. Photo: Daniel Ciolkosz, Extension Associate, Penn State.


Processing Biomass for Combustion

Table Of Contents

Unprocessed biomass comes in a variety of sizes, shapes and other properties, ranging from a gooey puddle of microscopic algae to the massive trunk of a large oak tree. If any feedstock is to be used effectively for combustion, it usually needs some form of processing to ensure that it is suitable for effective use in combustion equipment. The most common types …

How Much Heat Does BioFuel Have?

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There is no simple, single number, useful for all situations, to calculate the amount of energy in a fuel.
When biomass (or any fuel) is combusted, the products are heat, carbon dioxide, ash and water vapor. Hot water vapor, formed as part of the combustion reaction, has quite a …

Shell Corn as a Fuel for Greenhouse Heat


Corn has joined the list of popular alternatives to fossil fuels. Its high heat value, ease of handling, and ready availability in some sections of the United States have growers looking for information on cost, handling, and equipment suppliers. Although burning corn isn’t for everyone, a grower that is close to a good supply may find that it can reduce heating costs significantly.

Penn State Cooperative Extension has a Corn Energy Equivalent Table and an Energy Selector tool that …