Have you turned up your thermostat yet? Here in New England, the nights have gotten chilly and all across the land you can hear furnaces and boilers kicking on while homeowners wince at the thought of the money they’ll be spending on fuel. They might also worry about the growing evidence of climate change.
The good news is that there is an efficient, economical alternative to oil and gas. Energy from wood pellets is renewable, extremely efficient, and locally grown. But where do wood pellets come from? Let’s take a look at the life cycle of locally sourced wood pellets.
Pellet heat is based on wood pellets, the fuel you feed to your pellet heating system. These pellets start as trees. But trees aren’t grown specifically to become wood pellets. Our manufacturing plant, New England Wood Pellet in Jaffrey, New Hampshire, gathers wood from several different sources, such as post-manufacturing waste and low-quality trees that were harvested as part of a forest management plan.
Once the wood material arrives at the plant, it gets put though chippers and hammers that reduce the wood to uniform wood pulp. Then, it spends some time drying. Since some of the wood arrives at the mill green, this is a very important step for making wood pellets that will burn efficiently in your furnace. Once all the moisture has been removed from the wood, it’s squeezed through a mill where the wood heats just enough that its lignin turns into a glue-like substance that keeps the pulp molded together in the pellet shape.
Is lignin another word for magic? Not quite—it’s an organic polymer found in the cell walls of some plants, including trees! There is no glue or other harmful toxic materials in your wood pellets.
The size and density of the pellets can be controlled by the mill so that the product in your storage bin is of the utmost uniform quality. Once the pellets have cooled and hardened, they’re stored in a silo until they’re shipped.
Doesn’t that sound like a cleaner process than extracting oil or gas from the ground and shipping it across countries and continents? Pellets from New England Wood Pellet don’t have far to travel to your own basement in neighboring towns in New Hampshire and Vermont. The wood pellets you burn in your furnace were grown and processed within a hundred or so miles.
So when thinking about alternatives to solar heat, oil, and gas this winter, consider wood pellets as your go-to locally sourced fuel. It’s cleaner, and closer.