Effective Solutions in Wood Chip Storage for Biomass Boilers

by | Jun 2, 2023 | Boiler Supplier

It is important to consider the storage requirements of different wood fuels before making your decision. It isn’t just about wood fuel type! If you do not have the correct storage system in place for your choice of wood fuel, it will not be worth it! It generally takes several days for woody biomass for energy to be harvested, pre-processed, transported, and used. Even so, storage capability is still required, such as during holidays, when demand exceeds supply, or when weather potentially prevents normal biomass boiling operations. For a reliable, continuous supply of feedstock, it is important to store biomass harvested during periods of excess production and deliver it when demand exceeds supply. Therefore, this article explores effective wood chip storage solutions for biomass boilers and key methods for safely storing and handling wood chips.

Considerations When Choosing Wood Chip Storage for Biomass Boilers

There are certain things to think about when selecting a storage system for wood chips.

Some questions you might want to ask are:

  1. What is the required amount of space for wood chip storage?
  2. Are you able to accommodate a store in the space you have available?
  3. What is the amount of energy from the wood chips the storage system will contain?
  4. What is the expected time between refills in that storage system?

Outside of these, there are more things to consider, such as size, ventilation, drainage, and whether your storage is above or below the ground.

Forced Dried Wood Chip production by Woodyfuel

Size of Wood Chip Storage for Biomass Boilers

An important factor is size. In general, bigger is better when it comes to fuel stores, but many factors will influence the optimum size. Buying more at a time will result in a lower unit price, especially if deliveries can be scheduled so that a full lorry can be used for delivery.

However, this can only be achieved if you have a large enough storage space for the wood chips ordered.

Furthermore, a larger store will allow for a longer period between deliveries and greater reserves in case of delays or delivery difficulties, allowing for more flexibility in scheduling.

Drainage Solutions

There should be a drainage system, both in case of inadvertent ingestion of water and in case of fungus contamination that requires cleaning out the store. As wood chips are an organic material, contamination could happen more easily without a drainage system in the storage space.

Ventilation

Good ventilation is crucial for keeping dry biomass stores from:

  • Prevent mould growth
  • Prevent condensation
  • Allow additional drying time
  • Composting the fuel (which can cause a loss of energy content in the wood chips)
  • Prevent excessive temperatures and the risk of a fire

Fuel needs to be turned regularly if large stores are to be maintained. To reduce the need for additional equipment, fuel has been withdrawn from the bottom of the store at a faster rate than is required, and the excess fuel is returned to the top.

It is also recommended that those who work with these chips wear dust masks.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Above and Below Ground Storage Methods

You can have the choice between above-ground and below-ground storage solutions for your wood chips and they both come with various advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Above and Below Ground Storage Methods

You can have the choice between above-ground and below-ground storage solutions for your wood chips and they both come with various advantages and disadvantages.

Building the storage system for wood chips below ground may have several advantages, including:

  • Easier delivery for tipper vehicles
  • Out of view
  • Eases space requirements
  • Less likely to be a fire hazard

But disadvantages can include:

  • Costs more than above-ground storage
  • More difficult to incorporate effective drainage and ventilation systems
  • More likely to suffer from damp

On the other hand, above-ground storage has pretty much the opposite problems and benefits of below-ground storage.

Storage Options for Wood Chips

Although the following storage options focus on wood chips, they are also great for wood pellets, if you want your storage to handle both types of sustainable biomass wood fuel.

Integrated Internal Stores

When internal space is available or can be constructed, integrated internal stores are often the best solution. For convenience and efficiency, these stores should be constructed inside or near the boiler plant room.

As a block-built room is only a short distance from the boiler room from which the wood chip feed is transported, internal stores are an easy solution.

It is important to note that fuel delivery can take many forms, with vehicle access restrictions being the primary concern. Therefore, a vehicle should also be able to access the internal store to deliver the wood chips more effectively.

Subterranean Stores
A subterranean fuel store is a good solution for sites that have limited space and require fast fuel delivery. Both chips and pellets can be stored in underground or sunken fuel stores; they are space-saving solutions that delivery vehicles can access whenever they are needed. Therefore, ensuring that the truck has sufficient headroom is extremely important.
In addition to that, there is a lid with this type of store. Consider sliding or lifting the lid, as well as manual or hydraulic operation, before installing.
Hook Bin Stores
There are metal hook bins that are typically arranged in pairs and attached to a frame, much like shipping containers. Instead of refilling the container with fuel, it is easier to replace the empty bin with a full one. However, it is important to note that these bins require a significant amount of space.
Above Ground Octagonal Stores
These are prefabricated metal hoppers that come equipped with an internal agitator. These hoppers have a variety of features and benefits, such as thermal insulation, optional double-walled construction, and a stainless steel exterior. They are designed to handle a variety of fuel types and are easy to install and maintain.

There are also fill and vent pipes to facilitate fuel deliveries, particularly for pellets. Furthermore, they can also have an additional vertical elevator for tipping wood chip deliveries.

Lincolnshire depot for biomass wood fuel

Types of Deliveries for Wood Chips

Storage solutions are important, but they also play a part in the type of delivery you would get. The delivery options include:

  • Tipped delivery
  • Ramped delivery
  • Blown delivery
  • Fast feed auger delivery

For more information, contact Woodyfuel today!

In terms of effective storage solutions for your wood chips for biomass boilers, we hope this article helped you understand more. If you have any questions, we would be happy to help anytime!

Wood chip, pellet, brash

Call 03333 447234 to arrange your wood fuel supply today

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