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In between

Waseca, Minn. — Biomass-pellet stoves are popular with home owners and with large industrial complexes. But another opportunity lies somewhere in between.

Many light-industrial or on-farm uses may be ideal for pelleted-biomass fuels. Grain drying and heating for livestock buildings, farm shops and greenhouses could potentially be biomass powered.

“Most farmers have some sort of biomass on hand — corn, crop residue or straw — that they could use to offset some of their operation’s energy costs,” says Alan Doering, AURI associate scientist. “But there hasn’t been much attention given to burners that would be suited for farm or light-industrial use.”

An AURI initiative identified U.S. and Canadian manufacturers that produce industrial burners with energy output from 8,000 to 500-million Btu. The evaluation also detailed what fuels the burners could combust, their capacity, heat delivery and intended applications.

Evaluation results are available on AURI’s Web site:; click on the “biomass burner initiative” button. The report includes general biomass information and contact information for Minnesota burner manufacturers.

“Each burner may have some specific requirements for biomass feeding and handling,” Doering says. “But even with those considerations, using corn could reduce heating costs by 35 to 45 percent compared to propane. That could be very significant when you are considering heating barns or a machine shed.”