Using Biodiesel for Boiler Fuel To Lower Emissions

Are you trying to lower your sulfur or volatile emissions from your diesel fired boiler?   By adding biodiesel to your boiler fuel mixture you can realize some significant reductions in Sulfur, CO2, NOx, and other harmful particulate matter emissions from your stack.    Biodiesel has virtually no sulfur, so blending it with diesel fuel can help lower your emissions, as well as helping your boiler to burn more efficiently, and possibly reducing operating costs as well.  Biodiesel burns up to 80% cleaner than diesel fuel.

Air Pollution from boiler smoke stack

Emissions testings have shown that the use of B20 biodiesel in a boiler can reduce particulate matter emissions by as much as 20%, and can decrease NOx emissions by up to 20%. Blends with higher biodiesel content can provide greater particulate matter reductions. For example, the Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) has studied the use of bioheat blends in oil-fired heating systems for several years. BNL is the national leader in the United States for testing of fuels and heating equipment for the oilheat industry.  One focus of the research at BNL has been to determine if bioheat blends could be substituted for conventional heating oil without modification or adjustment to existing oil-fired heating systems.

We can offer biodiesel and biodiesel blends cheaper than #2 petroleum diesel fuel.

Triangle Biofuels has been using biodiesel for boiler fuel since the beginning of 2009, using pure biodiesel in warmer months, and sometimes using a biodiesel blend in winter months.  For new customers, we recommend starting out with a lower blend such as B5 (5% biodiesel to 95% petroleum diesel fuel).   Biodiesel will slowly clean your fuel tanks, fuel lines, and nozzles.  Using higher blends can cause problems initially as years of gunk can clog your lines or nozzles, or cause inefficient spray patterns.  Start slow and work up to higher blends over a few weeks or months.   Otherwise, there are no significant changes or modifications to observe for using biodiesel blends in your boiler.  Biodiesel works well in residential as well as large scale commercial boilers.

Because biodiesel has a higher flash point than #2 diesel fuel, a pre-heater is recommended, but not absolutely necessary.  Our first boiler was a Columba WL-60 which worked well without a pre-heater on B100.  Contact us and ask about using biodiesel or a biodiesel blend in your diesel fired boiler.

Fixing Old Problems

This weekend we re-plumbed the entire boiler loop for our plant. The initial installation was done by a group of people (including employees) that really didn’t know what they were doing. The original installation looked very much like a Rube Goldberg design, and while it did actually work (meaning it got hot water to the tanks to heat other liquids), it lacked sufficient heat transfer and caused premature pump failures. The boiler installation, except for the original boiler itself and the stack, has almost been completely redone. It has a new (properly sized) pump, a new properly sized fuel pump, new water supply and return piping that is the factory recommended sizing (2″), and in the factory recommended “loop” configuration instead of a manifold type configuration which was very inefficient and caused pressure and flow problems.

So far, we’re seeing quicker times to get the loop up to temperature, and much better heat transfer to the tanks. It was expensive to do, but our other options were less appealing: add another or bigger boiler, or use electric heating elements to add additional heat.

Since we use our own biodiesel in our boiler, the emissions from it are pretty clean, and the improved efficiency should not only save us money on fuel, but grant us the gains in heating efficiency we’ve needed for quite a while.