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Wood Burning Stoves, Friend, or Foe?

Clare Hollister

On December the 22nd the Times newspaper published a warning “wood-burning stoves “should carry pollution warning” The article was written by Adam Vaughn, environmental editor at the Times.

Chris Franklin MD at Ranheat Engineering Ltd.  a leading UK manufacturer of wood combustion equipment-continues his series of articles for Panel & Joinery Production. This issue he looks at how the Government is looking at pollution caused by wood-burning stoves. This could have a serious effect on the UK wood-working Industry.

Domestic wood-burning stoves are reportedly responsible for up to 20% of air-borne pollution in the form of NOx and particulate.

The 2021 Environment Act gave local authorities the power to issue on the spot civil penalties from £175 to £300. Please note these are for domestic users not industrial users.

Industrial users using wood-waste to heat their factories are already governed by strict rules, but it is expected that these rules will change with the emission levels lowered. The strict emission limits that apply to systems over 90kgs/hour wood consumption do not apply below the 90kg limit. But this is set to change.

The governments Renewable Heat incentive, started with a higher emission level for NOx and Particulate, this was changed, and the limits were lowered during the scheme. At the end of the scheme this had fallen to 30 g/GJ PM and 150 g/GJ NOx. For industrial boiler systems. Ranheat ceramic filters have been consistently measured at an average of 1.2 g/GJ particulate and 110 g/GJ for NOx.

The proposed new limits for domestic stoves will be a maximum of 375 g/GJ particulate. The current regulations look set to drop to a more stringent 185g/GJ. If the government is targeting domestic wood-burners it is highly likely that these will be applied to industrial installations, even small ones.

Therefore, it is likely that new Hand loaded industrial heaters will need to be lower than this new limit.

At the moment Hand Loaded Industrial heaters are generally required to meet the clean air act, and have been exemption tested by the government. Many of these tests were carried out more than 20 years ago. 

The feeling is that the new stricter limits will apply to all new industrial installations. To meet the new lower limits, it is unlikely that a natural draft system will meet the lower limits, as there is insufficient control with a natural draft chimney.

All Ranheat systems are fitted with induced draft (electric chimney fan) and forced draft fans for both primary and secondary air.

Whichever Ranheat system you go for or indeed any wood fired installation using waste wood still has to meet all of the current regulations.

You still are legally required to obtain planning, chimney height approval and permits to enable you to legally burn wood-waste. This can be in the form of an exemption from the EA for up to 50kgs per hour, or a permit for a SWIP or a full part B permit. Ranheat are on hand to give free assistance with obtaining these permits and permissions.

For further information on all types and sizes of Industrial Woodburning equipment from 150 kW upwards contact Ranheat:

T: 01604 750005

E: [email protected]