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A recent article noted that 14 biomass boilers (read primarily wood) will be added to rural communities with boilers going into Galena, Kake, Ketchikan, Haines, Minto, and Yakutat next year. After a process of studies and vetting, the Alaska Energy Authority’s $20 million Renewable Energy Fund is the source of funds for these projects.  The Anchorage Daily News Article is at http://www.adn.com/2014/03/20/3383922/alaska-energy-authority-plans.html).  Right now the state has assisted with about a dozen and a half communities getting biomass boilers with about half being in Southeast Alaska and the other half in the Interior/South Central region.  They are used for community building/school space heat, hydronics (heating water) and even vegetable growing.  These units run on cord wood logs, large chips, as well as pellets.  One of the big questions on these large boilers is performance in terms of efficiency and particulate matter with air quality in mind.  The units are tested and EPA approved before being available on the boiler market, yet this is under pristine, lab like conditions with fuel supplies that are uniform (which is not the situation most communities will burn in with various types of wood/material, bark and dirt attached as well as different wood moisture levels due to harvesting times and various storage methods).  Thus this is an area for more research that will eventually help the boiler operators eventually.

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