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Compare biomass fuel with coal and natural gas

Compare biomass fuel with coal

The burning performance of biomass fuel is similar with medium coal, but it have such advantages over coal:

  • The calorific value of biomass pellets is 10% lower than medium coal. But biomass pellets can burn out, while coals have 10-15% combustible component left in the coal slag. So in actual use, their calorific value are the same.
  • Biomass pellets are easier to ignite than coals, which can shorten the starting time largely.
  • The solid discharge of biomass pellets is lower than coal. It can reduce the slag discharge fee and air pollution. The solid emission of biomass pellets are almost ash, accounting for 0.4%~7.0% of the total weight, while the solid emission of coal are ash, alkali, and residual coal, accounting for 25%-40% of the total weight.
  • Coal’s pollutant emission and corrosion to the boiler is far more serious than biomass pellets. Coal smoke contains a lot of particle carbons, toxic SO2, CO and other corrosion gas. Biomass pellets is mainly composed of C-H organic matters, the gas emission is mainly C-H volatile gas, with little SO2 or CO emission. Biomass fuel is know as clean fuel. It can greatly reduce the air pollution and carbon emission.
  • Adoption of biomass fuel in boilers can save time and cost than coals. A 0.5t boiler can save 10% fuel cost and 16% time with biomass pellets than coal.
compare biomass fuel with coal

The cost of burning biomass pellets and other fuel (in a 1t boiler)

fuel calorific value
Kcal/kg
boiler heat efficiency fuel consumption unit price hourly operating cost emission
mixed coal 5000 65% 185kg/h ¥1/kg ¥185 SO2 CO
heavy oil 8000 85% 88.8kg/h ¥4.7/kg ¥417 SO2 NOX
diesel 10200 85% 69kg/h ¥7.2 ¥496.8 CO NOX
Natural gas 8000 86% 87kg/m3 4.5 391.5 none
Electricity 860kcal/KWH 95% 734KWH ¥0.8/kg ¥587.2 none
biomass pellet 4200 81% 178kg/h ¥1.1/kg ¥195 none

Compare biomass pellets and natural gas

Cost of biomass pellets and natural gas in boilers

Let’s take a 1 ton boiler for example. Suppose it need 600,000 calories for 1 hour. I work out the required quantity of natural gas and biomass pellets. By multiplying their unit price, we can work out the total cost. As the form show, biomass pellets cost much lower than natural gas.

fuel calorific value
Kcal/kg
price required quantity total cost
natural gas 9000 ¥3.6/m3 66m3 ¥238
biomass pellets 4200 ¥900/t 140kg ¥126

Natural gas is a non-renewable resource, like coal and oil. Biomass energy is the chemical form of solar power. It includes wood, forestry waste, crop waste, aquatic plant, animal dung, plant wastes. Every year, the biomass produced by photosynthesis is up to 173 billion ton, equal to 10-20 times the annual global energy consumption, but only 3% of them are utilized. As long as there is sunlight, the biomass energy will never run out.

compare biomass fuel and natural gas

In some rural areas, natural gas is not available. Meanwhile, with more factories transform coal-fired boilers into natural gas boiler, the price of natural gas is going to rise up. By contrast, biomass energy is rich in rural areas. They are easy to obtain and process, which don’t take much cost.

The ash residues of wood pellets after burning contains minerals and carbon. It can be used as fertilizer on farm and in garden. You can collect the ash residues from biomass boilers for future use.

Comparison of biomass boiler, gas boiler, and coal boiler

Under the environment protection pressure, coal boilers are restricted in many cities. Many factories have switched to biomass boiler or gas boiler. Here I’d like to compare the 3 boilers and figure out which is the best.

Initial investment

In term of the boilers with the same capacity, gas boilers require the highest cost, then comes biomass boiler, and coal boiler for the last.

Operation cost

In terms of operation cost, gas boiler > coal boiler > biomass boiler. The gas price varies in different areas, higher than biomass and coal. The price of biomass and coal are similar, but as coal boilers have lower efficiency, the operation cost is higher than biomass boiler.

Environment effect

In terms of environmental protection, gas boiler > biomass boiler > coal boiler. Gas boilers adopt natural gas as fuel, biomass boilers adopt biomass pellets or briquettes. Coal boilers generate the highest pollution, including SO2, CO, ash, alkali, etc. Biomass boilers arere environmental-friendly than coals. It only generate C, H volatile gases, and little ash residues.

Application area

Coal boilers have been restricted in many cities, or need to be equipped with desulfurizer. Natural gas supply is not uniform in different areas. Some regions don’t have natural gas available, so biomass boilers become their best choice. 

biomass boiler and natural gas boiler
biomass boiler and natural gas boiler

In conclusion, to meet the environment requirement, gas boilers and biomass boilers are viable. Gas boilers have the least emission, but the cost is the highest. Biomass boilers have low cost and wide application, and the pollution emission is low. So it has been popular in many areas.

*With the popularity of biomass pellets, wood pellet making equipment is in growing demand. TICO is a professional biomass equipment manufacturer and supplier. Our machinery have CE and ISO certificates, and dozens of national patents. If you want pellet machine, wood pellet plant, or equipment in wood pellet production line, or if you have any questions, welcome to leave us a message in the form below. Our service will reply you within 1 workday.

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