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Discussion in 'Home Power and Microgeneration' started by Gregory Rodney, Oct 1, 2003.

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  1. Has anyone in this group ever tinkered with burning saw mill sawdust for
    heating puposes? Around here I can get a tri-axel load delivered for a total
    cost of about $1.50/yd. Any input both pro or con would be appreciated.

  2. John

    John Guest

    The school I attended as a child was heated by saw dust. Burning saw dust fired
    a large boiler. We weren't allowed anywhere near it, so can't really provide
    and details.

  3. I have never tinkered with it, but for the first 6 years of my life,
    my parents lived in a home with a sawdust-burning furnace. It was a
    "gravity" furnace, circulating by convection, and was hand-stoked. The
    sawdust bin was in the basement, near the furnace, and we kids were
    sternly warned not to play in it, as it was allegedly full of fleas
    (but I think it may have had more to do with us tracking the stuff
    upstairs, LOL).

    Probably less trouble than wood heat. You could probably make an
    auger-type automatic stoker.

    Is the sawdust supply there for a long term? No use setting up to use
    it if it becomes unavailable in a year or two.

    FWIW, I don't think there is a single home left in the Vancouver, B.C.
    area that still uses sawdust fuel. It definitely impacted the air
    quality of the town.

    Gordon Richmond
  4. cw

    cw Guest


    This may or may not be what you want to pursue, it is processing the
    sawdust into charcoal briquettes. The wood pellet stoves use sawdust with a
    binder extruded out and cut into approx. 1/2" stubs.
    All of these pages opened, the "" was slow and timed out the
    first time. Hope they give you some ideas.
  5. Thanx to all who replied.

    Yes, safety is an issue with fine sawdust like the stuff from a table saw.
    The stuff I get comes from a saw blade that's about 3/8" thick. I tried
    throwing a couple of handfuls over an open trash fire in a field and I got
    NO flare up. So I think it'll be OK with a controled feed to an already
    existing flame front. I'm trying to develop something like a pellet stove. I
    can get a decent burn rate but the main problem is that with the sharp
    corners on the sawdust is that it tends to hang up and not fall down in the
    hopper towards the feed auger.
    I never gave a thought to making my own briquets.

    I'll keep posting my progress---if any.

  6. cw

    cw Guest

    A few months back there was a briquette machine for sale perhaps in Georgia
    or South Carolina as I recall, it was at a very good price. I was thinking
    of putting my 20 ton shop press to work, probably would be making something
    the size of hockey pucks, a row of pipe cylinders with a plunger ram, fill
    them up and press them down.
    Years back I experimented with shredded paper slurry, making a shoebox
    sized wooden frame about 6" tall, with a plunger block, then parked my car
    on top a couple of hours.
    Keep us posted on your developments.
  7. Pike

    Pike Guest

    It sounds like an appealing source of heat at $1.50 a yard, but safety and
    reliability would be a big concern. I remember as a kid throwing a handful
    of flour-like sawdust - probably from floor sanding- onto a fire and getting
    my forelocks nicely frizzed along with a flash sunburn. The more granular
    stuff from actually sawing wood doesn't explode but still has to be exposed
    to the air in a controlled way. I think the pelletization approach is the
    best but the time and investment makes it impractical for your personal home
    heating -unless you want to go big and start a business! I believe that the
    pellets sell for about $80 a ton, so there's got to be a profit there or at
    least some way to get at that cheap energy, good luck. PS if you make it
    into briquets don't you lose a lot of energy from the volatiles (and produce
    a lot of pollution)?
  8. Guest

    One talk at last week's Sustainable Resources 2003 conference in Boulder:

    Lowell Baker and Manuel Hernandez, University of Alabama and
    Northern Illinois University

    In the early 1970s, Lowell Baker desgined a system for utilizing sawdust
    as a fuel for firing pottery. It included a large barrel or drum full of
    sawdust connected by PVC tubing to an ordinary household vacuum cleaner
    [which] sucked the sawdust from the barrel via the PVC tubing and blew [it]
    into the kiln firebox. When the sawdust entered the hot atmosphere of the
    firebox, iniitally started with wood, it would sustain the fire through to
    the final stages. This method of utilizing a waste product as fuel began
    being used in Nicaragua and has spread to other places. Using agricultural
    waste has reduced the potters' dependence on wood by 50%. The system has
    been uwsed to fire kilns with coffee and/or rice husks in areas where these
    agricultural waste products are most accessible. The most efficient fuel
    is the granular sawdust resulting from log milling operations.

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