Researchers at the Agroforestry Development Centre in Indian Head, Sask. are testing a furnace using willows harvested using a modified baler that cuts and bales the willows in a single pass. The bales are then allowed to dry, and after six months dropped into a haybuster tub grinder to be made into chips.
Researchers hope to use the biomass furnace as the main source of heating for the 43,000 square-foot development centre, with the potential to offset $40,000 worth of natural gas usage and approximately 300 tonnes of carbon dioxide.
We re hoping one day that rural communities will be able to use biomass furnaces to heat multiple buildings at the same time, said project manager Ian Pickering.
Centre researchers say that although an initial investment is required, between $200,000 and $300,000 depending on size, farmers will be able to incorporate biomass utilization into their farm operation using existing tractors to bale, and hay grinders to chip the wood.