voterone wrote:I wonder if there is a business in coal stoves, coal and supplies geared for mid westerners. I think an 'agent' business model, with authorized reps throughout the region and a central support and inventory/storage system might be viable.
Just a thought.
I'm sure there is a business in it, but there is a serious lack of proper equipment to burn it and education and knowlege of using it properly. In my opinion, to burn our coal (provided you have neighbors within a mile) REQUIRES a stoker. I've done the handfed Indiana bituminous deal as a kid - and while I thought the great plumes of black smoke were cool (I love steam engines, too), I vividly remember the soot strings everywhere outside, and cleaning the 40' chimney with my father every 3 or 4 weeks.
Therefore, while yes you could keep people warm by churning out reproduction Warm Morning stoves, not many would put up with the mess and soot. The ticket is going to be stokers - and I'm not sure people would go for a repro Combustioneer or Stokermatic stove in a modern living room. They are kinda fugly, but would make a dandy small add-on furnace for modern, well insulated homes. Or, as I am doing, build a stoker boiler and put it in an outbuilding. There are several commercial units made with the Prill style pot that might work with our clinkering coals, but they are also HUGE at 300,000 BTU and up. I could heat my house and both my neighbors with that. There needs to be a version starting around 100,000 or 130,000 BTU for a "normal" home. I've not heard a peep about the bituminous burning EFM that they developed, but that would be a good possibility.
Right now my natural gas is practically free. Last bill was in the area of $.40/therm. It's going up again, but nothing like the $1.40/therm it was July 2008. Even bituminous isn't going to save me money at these prices. Farmers in the country who are burning LP will instead just burn the corn they farm. Nobody really uses oil around the midwest much, most cities and towns are on natural gas.
But, the price of pellets is just stupid, and we have several pellet mills in the region. I'm doing better burning bagged anthracite from 800 miles away rather than pellets from 100 miles away by quite a margin. Once you could demonstrate that local coal consumption would help the economy, not smoke out the neighborhood, be relatively clean with either basement or outbuilding installations, and be a reliable heat source that saves money over any other except maybe free firewood, it might make a go as a business.......
Not to stir the pot - but anthracite is "easy". No smoke, little smell, no soot, easy to tend, long burning, clean to handle the fuel - almost anyone can do it. Bituminous will take a "special breed" of coal lover that's just a little more weird than the rest of 'em. "My name is Chris, and I burn bituminous...."
But when my gas hits $1.40 a therm and keeps going up, I'll let my neighbors come over and sniff my stack....