Cross-posted from GROOVY GREEN:
Researchers at the Grass Energy Collaborative have completed a day long burn of grass pellets at Shelburne Farms, as they study the development of grass as a source of alternative energy. While recent attention has been paid to growing grass to create ethanol as a fuel for our vehicles, this test proves more promising as a method of heating our businesses and homes in the near future. Increased national demand and reduced natural gas production in the United States due to Gulf Coast hurricanes boosted natural gas prices to historical highs in late 2005. Warm weather in the month of January has reduced demand in the US, and prices retreated. However, providing affordable methods of heating northern homes and businesses in the future will be of growing concern. Renewable sources of energy such as switch- and other grasses could be grown in fallow fields, harvested, and turned into grass pellets for gassification and combustion in specially designed or retrofitted furnaces and boilers. This technology sounds more immediately beneficial to our nation, and I hope that government and business leaders will consider further funding of this research. More information below the fold and complete article link HERE.
Marshall Webb of Shelburne Farms and Treasurer of the GEC believes that the entire farm could be heated by grass pellets next year, replacing thousands of gallons of propane and fuel oil:
Webb said that Shelburne Farms is committed to switching to renewable sources of energy, and producing as much of that energy as possible on the farm. Grass energy, he said, could conceivably replace the 20,000 gallons of propane and 24,000 gallons of fuel oil currently used annually for heating, as well as a significant portion of approximately 675,000 kilowatt hours of electricity.(snip)
Next heating season, Shelburne Farms hopes to heat the Farm Barn entirely on pellets made from grass harvested on the farm. All the participants stressed that the technology is in its development stage and that Friday's burn was designed to show whether any modifications need to be made to the Farm Barn furnace to efficiently burn this fuel. A more extensive two day test will occur in about three weeks time. Members of the collaborative are also hoping to raise funds to develop a portable pelletizer that could be moved from farm to farm.
We will certainly be keeping our eye on this promising technology at Groovy Green and will bring you more information on it as it becomes available.