Coal vs Wood Pellets

PostBy: Berlin On: Sat Mar 11, 2006 7:32 pm

Yea, i get mine for about that too, high vol high sulfur, high aft, bituminous @ around 15,000btus/lb. which is more than what yall have out west, but the coal most people on this forum use is penn anthricite, completely different animal. heck, if i lived in North dakota i could get lignite at under $15/ton, but it only has around 7,000btu's/lb. about the same as wood pellets.
Berlin
 
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: Will-Burt Combustioneer 77B
Coal Size/Type: Ohio BITUMINOUS pea stoker coal

PostBy: berg On: Sat Mar 11, 2006 8:01 pm

Most of our coal is Bituminouos... no lignite here but North Dakota is full of Lignite.
here is a little info on our coal. How do I convert the heating value MJ/kg ?

Typical Western coal quality parameters :

* Moisture – 8%
* Ash – 8.5%
* Sulphur – 0.25%
* Heating value – 26.5MJ/kg
berg
 

PostBy: Berlin On: Sat Mar 11, 2006 8:47 pm

tell me where you get your specific coal and i'll be able to tell you anthing you want ot know about it. but in general western coal is mostly of bituminous/subbituminous variety and lower in heat and sulfur content than that of eastern coals. btw, your 26,5MJ/kg is about 11,000btu/lb
Berlin
 
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: Will-Burt Combustioneer 77B
Coal Size/Type: Ohio BITUMINOUS pea stoker coal


PostBy: Richard S. On: Sun Mar 12, 2006 5:33 am

berg wrote:Hate to have my first post make you feel bad but I buy Nut size coal at the mine head for $35 a ton...


There is a difference... Anyone who has burned soft coal and has then used anthracite will tell you they prefer the anthacite even if it costs more in most cases. In your situation that may not be feasible though because of the price difference would be quite high due to the shipping costs.
Richard S.
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Van Wert VA1200
Coal Size/Type: Buckwheat/Anthracite

PostBy: Berlin On: Sun Mar 12, 2006 5:37 am

well... i'd have to disagree, i've used both and prefer bituminous regardless of price. however, as i've said before anthricite is more appropriate for most people and it suits their needs well. I like bituminous for the same reasons most people don't- the smoke, the smell and the way it burns.
Berlin
 
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: Will-Burt Combustioneer 77B
Coal Size/Type: Ohio BITUMINOUS pea stoker coal

PostBy: rouxzy On: Sun Mar 12, 2006 7:16 am

Talk about smell. If they could find coal that smells like wood when it is burning my wife would make sure that I'm first in line to get it.
Tom
rouxzy
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Harman Mark III
Coal Size/Type: Stove, Nut / Anthracite

PostBy: Richard S. On: Sun Mar 12, 2006 7:57 am

I can't really make a comparison to soft coal since I have never used it, just what I'm told. I have gotten many inquiries from people in the soft coal areas about purchasing.

You may enjoy the smell, why I don't know but most will not and I'm sure my neighbors would not be too thrilled about it.

There's other advantages to anthacite as well. As pointed out by another poster soft coal has to be burned hot to get the full BTU vlue out of it. That is not the case with anthracite, in my situation that would be essential since we burn year round. The furnace barelt runs in the summer and only uses about 1 ton in a 3 month span which is really nothing.

As I said befor to another soft coal burner if it works for you so be it.
Richard S.
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Van Wert VA1200
Coal Size/Type: Buckwheat/Anthracite

PostBy: Berlin On: Tue Mar 14, 2006 4:41 am

First, as i said above, anthricite is good for most people and it suits thier needs well. Coalman I'm sure you'll agree with me on this. :wink:

Their are two types of efficiencies that have to be taken into account;
1.stove efficiency
2. efficiency of the actual fuel burning

the reason that many seem to think that their stove/furnace/etc. are more efficient when burning slow is two fold, one- there is the fact that not as much coal IS being used and two, the STOVE may very well be running more efficiently. this is because there is less excess air entering the burning coal that has to be heated, and the hot gasses are moving more slowly through the combustion chamber thus losing more of their heat to the heat exchanger before being exhausted out the stack.

The efficiency of the actual fire, the actual process of combustion, will never be more efficient when it is proceeding slowly from restriction of the air.

high quality anthricite coal empirical formula: C240H90O4NS

When hard coal burns in enough oxygen; being mostly carbon co2 is formed, however, there is still a sizable amount of CO this is because outside of perfect conditions there will always be CO when burning hydrocarbon fuels. CO is gasous fuel, it can further combust to produce CO2. When burning anthricite rapidly, with ample oxygen, CO is kept to a minimum, however, when the air is restricted to slow the fire the percentage of CO being produced and remaining unburned can reach as high as 90% of flue gasses. So, as you can see even burning anthricite slowly will result in large wastes of fuel.

However, because of the nature and design of some stoves/furnaces the OVERALL efficiency of the appliance may actually increase when coal is burned slowly, anthricite or bituminous; even though the combustion process becomes less efficient.

Bituminous coal empirical formula: C137H97O9NS

Bituminous can contain anywhere from 15% to 45% volitiles. Bituminous coal combustion is extreemly complex depending on whether stoker fed or bulk fed, and how much air is present dramatically changes the ways in which bituminous burns, much more so than anthricite which behaves in a simpler fashon. But basically its like this; The hydrogen fractions of most hydrocarbons will allways attempt to combust first, in soft coal, this means that under incomplete O2 conditions the intial combustion that takes place in a fresh load of coal happens right next to the piece of coal burning in the appliance- which is actually the complex hydrocarbons breaking apart and some hydrogen combining with O2 to form hundreds of different gases including h2o as steam. So simply i will say the the some of the volitile fractions are combusting even in a very oxygen poor environment; but even as the volitiles produce energy by breaking down and partially combusting, a large portion ends up as visable smoke.

based on heating load calculations for my home, outside temps being mild and the btu content per lb of my soft coal, i can maintain 60-70% total OVERALL efficiencies even while burning slowly in my bulk loading stove.

Conclusion is that while soft coal may waste slightly more energy while burning slowly, the differences are not dramatic. The main difference between bituminous and soft coal is that the inefficiency of burning soft coal slowly shows up as partially burned hydrocarbons in the form of dense yellow/grey smoke while hard coal shows little to no visable signs that it's burning inefficiently.

btw, i don't want people to get the wrong idea when i mentioned "smoke and smell" in my previous post; i can very rarely smell the coal burning outside my home, and the smoke is not excessive even though i burn some of the highest volitile coal that can be bought (for those of you that had the picture of a steam locomotive pouring out black smoke in your minds)
Berlin
 
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: Will-Burt Combustioneer 77B
Coal Size/Type: Ohio BITUMINOUS pea stoker coal

PostBy: LsFarm On: Tue Mar 14, 2006 10:07 am

Berlin: thanks for the technical breakdown on the combustion process. In the PM's we exchanged I was a bit confused. Now that I read your above post three times I think I have an Idea of what is going on. I had to dust off my college chemistry books and take an aspirin too. [kidding]

For those comparing Bitum. and Anthracite, there is a huge difference in the experience. Bituminous is pretty sooty/dirty, and can be smelly. But if you have a boiler or stove set up to burn Bituminous like Berlin has then the unpleasant issues from Bitumionous can be minimized.

Berlin made his own boiler and designed it specifically to burn Bituminous coal. He and I have exchanged many messages about my experiences burning Bituminous. He has helped me to add to and change some features in my fireboxt to better burn the really LOUSY Bitum. coal I have.

I think that if I could find a source for good low volutiles Bituminous that did not leave clinkers blocking the grate, I could live with the smoke and soot. When I have burned anthracite it is such a different experience that it is hard to compare. Anthracite burns clean, hot and soot free. But costs 3x-5x as much. And Anthracite is much more fussy about how it is burnt in my boiler.

For a guy like me who is using a boiler designed for both wood and coal, burning the Bitum. is like adding more wood to the fire. It will burn fairly well in an incorrectly designed firebox. But when burning Anthracite, I have to have just the right fire in the firebox, add the Anthracite in just the right way to get the all-night burn and complete combustion that I'm looking for. Otherwise I'm wasting the expensive coal.

I do personally like the bagged Anthracite I have found and tried. But the cost is so high that it almost isn't worth the extra effort and expense.

I am planning on buying and bringing home some good Bituminous and Anthracite for next season. Coal bins first, then the road trips to get the coal.

To heat my ~4000 sqft house and my 2400 sqft shop I'm expecting to burn 2 ton a month in cold weather. So the lower cost of the Bitum is an important issue for me. If I was looking at only a ton a month then the $300/ton for bagged Anthracite would not be an issue at all.

If I had a source for good inexpensive Bitum nearby, then I might be building a new boiler to a design like Berlin's. But the distance to any source of good coal is at least a ten hour drive, so I'm going to try both types next season and see how it works out.

Greg L
LsFarm
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman Anderson 260
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: Self-built 'Big Bertha' SS Boiler
Baseburners & Antiques: Keystone 11, Art Garland

PostBy: Berlin On: Tue Mar 14, 2006 1:24 pm

hey, greg how are things working out for your boiler? any better than they were? I haven't had much time lately online i've been so buisy, someday when i get a new digital camera i'll post or email pics of my setup. (my niece got ahold of and dropped my current camera- hasn't worked right since)

btw, i think i've thoroughly hijacked this thread, i apologize to the poster.
Berlin
 
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: Will-Burt Combustioneer 77B
Coal Size/Type: Ohio BITUMINOUS pea stoker coal

PostBy: Jersey John On: Thu Oct 19, 2006 9:54 am

As I only joined this forum in August, I have been sitting on the fence for removing my pellet stove and replacing it with my Defiant Encore in the same room. Along with the indecision, has been the interest in purchasing a wood/coal stove or dedicated coal stove for my office. That part was solved just this week with the purchase of a small Consolidated Dutchwest wood/coal burner, which I hope to have in working order in the next 2 weeks.

However, I still have my pellet stove sitting in the corner of my living room, with a few bags of pellets nearby. Though we have not experienced more than a few days of cold weather, I have fired the stove up a few times, and admit that the convenience of a thermostat controling the stove, with the limited need to clean out ash, is vey tempting to stay with.

I know that even if I go with a dedicated coal stove, it will be placed in the basement. With that in mind, whether I burn pellets or wood upstairs is just a matter of how readily available my fuel is. For the moment, the price of a 40# bag of pellets is just under $5.00. When I first purchased my stove 6 years ago, it was around $3.40. Last year, even when it was difficult to find pellets, I never spent more than $3.80. So the increase alone is a motivating factor.

I hope to find that there is an ample supply of pellets this year, even with the increase. I'll just set the thermostat lower, and try for 36 hours from a bag of pellets. Since last week, I have only burned about 3/4 of a bag. On the other hand, once the temps drop, and my drafty house kicks the thermostat back on, the stove will burn more consistently.

My thinking is moving towards a more powerful coal stove in my office, cutting vents all over the place and heating the better part of the house with coal next year, where I can purchase the coal at a better price in the summer. Of course, it would be nice if our host could deliver coal to Northern Morris County in NJ. I'm sure there are at least a dozen or so other forum members that would agree. I did register my interest on his coal site as well.

Next year, I plan on installing my Vermont Castings, or possibly the Harmon Exception in my living room. I will then heat with the wood I have been cutting the last few weeks. As I have now an endless supply, and do enjoy a wood fire, I hope to continue with wood and coal well into the future..... I am not yet at the stage of most of you who are tired of burning wood... I do want available cheap affordable and consistent heat, which pellets are not!
Jersey John
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: DS 1500
Coal Size/Type: Nut, Pea
Other Heating: Regency Wood Stove

PostBy: Richard S. On: Thu Oct 19, 2006 11:02 am

Jersey John wrote: Of course, it would be nice if our host could deliver coal to Northern Morris County in NJ. I'm sure there are at least a dozen or so other forum members that would agree. I did register my interest on his coal site as well.


No firm plans at the moment but anyone who filled out the form will be the first to know. :)
Richard S.
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Van Wert VA1200
Coal Size/Type: Buckwheat/Anthracite

PostBy: Jersey John On: Thu Oct 19, 2006 2:49 pm

Thanks! I know that you're working on establishing a wider territory, and also realize the cost of doing so. In my case, if I were to order from the company in Paterson, the delivered price of raw coal is around $270.00. At least it was when I first started looking in August.

I'll probably take a ride with a buddy in his pickup to Pa. once I get my stove installed and running. Likely will only pick up a 1/2 ton in bags, and supplement with wood, until I find that I want to go full time.

Thanks for your response
Jersey John
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: DS 1500
Coal Size/Type: Nut, Pea
Other Heating: Regency Wood Stove

PostBy: europachris On: Sat Dec 09, 2006 7:04 pm

Berlin wrote:well... i'd have to disagree, i've used both and prefer bituminous regardless of price. however, as i've said before anthricite is more appropriate for most people and it suits their needs well. I like bituminous for the same reasons most people don't- the smoke, the smell and the way it burns.


Have you seen the Yorkshire stove?
http://www.dunsleyheat.co.uk/techyork.htm
This link is broken, either the page no longer exists or there is some other issue like a typo.
It is a 'downburning' stove that is alleged to be smokeless on almost anything. I don't believe it's imported into the USA, but I enquired about it some years ago and they would ship one.

I grew up in Southern Indiana during the 'wood heat boom' of the late 70's/early 80's. Our next door neighbor was a coal mining bigwig, and burned coal in his basement add-on furnace. We also had wood heat to supplement the heat pumps - upstairs was a German Weso tile stove, and downstairs was a Woodchuck add-on furnace.

One winter we ran out of wood, so my father bought a ton of run-of-mine bituminous from him. EGADS, what a mess! Soot everywhere (roof, chimney, etc). Plugged the chimney in about 3 weeks. I recall washing my mother's car on a decent late winter day and while it was parked outside, it became covered in oily little soot strings from the furnace.

It would likely be easier to get Illinois coal up here rather than anthracite from PA. This might be a good stove to burn it cleanly. I've thought about a pellet stove, but can't justify it until the price of natural gas goes high enough. We have about 2900 sq.ft. of well insulated, 3 year old home, so with a 90% furnace, it's not too bad. However, I love a stove, and would like to put something in.

Chris
europachris
 
Stove/Furnace Make: EFM 350/Iron Fireman
Stove/Furnace Model: Custom bituminous burner

PostBy: Berlin On: Sat Dec 09, 2006 9:09 pm

"One winter we ran out of wood, so my father bought a ton of run-of-mine bituminous from him. EGADS, what a mess! Soot everywhere (roof, chimney, etc). Plugged the chimney in about 3 weeks. I recall washing my mother's car on a decent late winter day and while it was parked outside, it became covered in oily little soot strings from the furnace"

I don't believe that you will ever be able to eliminate soot from southern illinois high vol bituminous, a particularly smokey coal of which i have burned many tons. burning any bituminous you will have small pieces of soot on the roof and in the imediate area downwind of your chimney, however, the soot particles are not from the smoke, but rather from deposits that periodically break loose from the chimney and land on the surroundings. with a stove that has a decent secondary burn these will be kept to a minimum, but it will still happen, it's part of the deal when burning bituminous; although i have never found them that much of a problem. btw, if you clogged your chimney that fast and had soot all over the house i think your particular setup at that time may have needed some serious modification to burn coal without making a mess, it IS possible and very easy to do.
Berlin
 
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: Will-Burt Combustioneer 77B
Coal Size/Type: Ohio BITUMINOUS pea stoker coal