UBLOGeivable! Grass pellets to keep warm – a sustainable solution to grass cuttings

February 25th, 2009 Posted in Blogs, Front Page News, Project Green, UnBLOGlievable!

This is a great story from the Catskill Watershed Corporation, the Watershed Advocate, Winter 2008.  Excerpts are provided here for a quick read, but you should check out the whole story.

Staying Warm:  Grass pellets may be one solution

The potential of grass pellets and woody biomass as sources of home-grown heat is being explored in separate research projects sponsored by the CWC and the Watershed Agricultural Council (WAC).

The Franklin Town Highway Garage is the first of several Watershed buildings selected as a test site for a CWC-funded study by Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) to explore the feasibility of utilizing grass pellets as a bio-energy source for heating. Indoor and outdoor pellet-fired units will be installed at each site so that people can see both types of heating units in action. Their operation will be monitored for effectiveness, efficiency and ease of use, their air quality impacts will be gauged, and operation and maintenance issues examined.

The study will also determine the cost savings of using grass pellets instead of other forms of fuel. The Town of Franklin, for example, burned 3,000 gallons of fuel oil last year. The boiler that currently warms the highway garage uses about two and a quarter gallons per hour, and runs on average 12 hours a day in the  winter.  Thus the pellet stove project “is a pretty hot topic of conversation here, especially with the price of fuel,” remarked Highway Superintendent Mark Laing. Stoves that use wood pellets, made of sawdust and byproducts from sawmills and woodworking facilities, corn and even cherry pits have become very popular in light of high oil prices.

The CWC project seeks to find a reliable and profitable way to produce grass pellets to use in these stoves, thus turning vacant grasslands in the Watershed “into one more weapon in the arsenal of alternative fuels,” according to CWC Economic Development Director Mike Triolo.

At its meeting September 25, the CWC Board of Directorsauthorized the expenditure of up to $195,500 from the Catskill Fund for the Future for the three-year pilot project. Paul Cerosaletti and Marianne Kiraly of CCE have been consulting with Cornell agriculture professor Jerry Cherney, an avid promoter of the development of grass pellets as a low-tech, small-scale, environmentally-friendly, renewable energy system that can be locally produced, processed and consumed.  Prof. Cherney spoke on this topic at the 2006 Catskills Local Government Day, when he noted that New York State has about 1.5 million acres of unused or underutilized agricultural land, most of which is already growing grass. Farmers no longer raising dairy cows, landowners who have their fields mowed to retain open vistas, even New York City which is acquiring Watershed lands to prevent development and preserve water quality could turn unused grass into cash, and fuel.

READ MORE at http://www.cwconline.org/pubs/adv2009_01.pdf

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  1. 3 Responses to “UBLOGeivable! Grass pellets to keep warm – a sustainable solution to grass cuttings”

  2. By Joe Heller on Apr 7, 2009

    Hello Bronx Council:
    I work for the US Dept of Agriculture and want to inform you that I am working with a group called the Lower Hudson – Long Island Resource Conservation and Development Council Inc. They are developing a Mobile Grass Pelletizer. That will pelletize the grasses on the land rather than shipping the grasses long distances to the processing facility.
    For More information contact: Joe Heller at joseph.heller@ny.usda.gov

  3. By karen on Apr 7, 2009

    Thanks Joe, we will definitely be in contact. This is wonderful news.

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