According to Biomass Magazine and the results from a new study released by the University of New Hampshire, indoor storage of pellets in homes using the fuel for heat does not pose a risk of generating carbon monoxide (CO) levels above recommended thresholds.
The issue has been contentious in the Northeast, said Adam Sherman, executive director of Vermont-based Biomass Energy Resource Center. "There has been some controversy there about whether it is okay to store pellets inside, or if it should be done in outdoor silos. It a bit of a tricky issue, and this study could really help put this debate to rest."
Over a period of seven months, the CO concentration in the air of 25 residences in New Hampshire and Massachusetts were monitored. Out of the 25, 16 of the homes use wood pellet boilers with indoor pellet storage containers with a capacity of at least 3 tons; four of the homes use outdoor pellet storage, four use other heating fuels and the remainder is a university laboratory site.
The study was designed to obtain preliminary survey data of residential CO in ambient indoor air in the immediate vicinity of wood pellet storage and heating systems compared to that of the homes using fossil fuel systems. Throughout the duration of the study, no significant emissions source of CO from indoor wood pellet storage was found.
One of the study's authors, Barbara Bernstein of the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission, said feedback has been positive, and it has helped prove what many installers were already confident of. "These systems have been used extensively in Europe for quite some time and studied over there as well, and it didn't seem there would be much difference between what you would find in Europe and find here," she said.
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