nuke wrote:I find it funny that in the area where I and Mound City are from (Southern Illinois), coal used to be a very common heating fuel. My grandmother's two previous homes were heated with coal and later converted. I am really interested in heating my future home (I'm 23, right out of college) with local coal as I believe that in the coming years we will face a disastrous shortage in conventional fuels. However, here in So. Ill. we will always be able to dig some coal right out of the ground. I haven't found anyone I know that can really tell me about burning the local stuff, especially with the new technology available.
I grew up in S. Indiana, and back in the late 70's there were folks heating with the local coal, but they were far and few between. We tried it once in our house, which had a large Woodchuck furnace in the basement as well as a very nice German Weso tile stove in the family room. The Weso stove actually burnt it fairly well, even being engineered for anthracite. The Woodchuck burnt it well, but made ungodly amounts of soot. It turned the brick chimney and surrounding roof black, and clogged the flue in a matter of weeks.
That said, I'm sure the Woodchuck wasn't optimized for burning coal, and we were also burning run-of-mine lump size with no real system of feeding new coal, etc.
For burning bituminous, there really isn't anything out there at this time aside from the US Stove products and maybe a few other stoves, but none are really optimized for it. There is a stove out of the UK, called the Yorkshire Stove by Dunsleyheat, that should be able to burn bituminous quite well, but it is $$$ and not imported into the USA.
The old stoker stoves (Combustioneer, Stokermatic, etc.) are not in production currently, although there is a person trying to get something like them back into production. I also know of a current anthracite stoker manufacturer hoping to have a bituminous burning stoker in the next year or two. I'm hanging my hat on that idea, as I can't get anthracite up here for a decent price, and I *CAN* get Illinois stoker coal pretty cheap. What I *WON'T* put up with is the fantastic amounts of soot the Illinois coal can produce.
The key to burning the coal we have out here is 1) feed coal in a controlled manner to have a steady release of the volatiles, 2) have a source of heated air to ignite and burn the volatiles before they cool off and make a lot of soot, and 3) have a method to control the ash, which melts at a very low temperature and fuses into nasty clinkers. It's not nice coal to burn, but at $50/ton rather than $250 or $300 to get anthracite out here, it's worth it.