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Forum Post: Crown Capital Eco/biomass Boiler Addresses Alaskans' Environmental, Economic Concerns

Posted 5 years ago on Jan. 30, 2013, 8:29 p.m. EST by alysiapower27 (0)
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

The heavily forested city of Ketchikan, Alaska, is built on rock and surrounded by water. Every commodity that comes into Ketchikan must arrive by sea or air. The use of fuel oil is problematic for both economic and environmental reasons because the oil must be obtained and refined elsewhere and transported (using additional fuel). What's more, fuel oil is subject to price instability.

Southeast Alaska Discovery Center in Ketchikan, which provides information to more than a million visitors each year, is the site of a pilot biomass boiler system now coming to life. Two oil-fired boilers serving the 250,000-sq-ft center were replaced with a highly efficient system fueled by local wood. Manufactured by Hurst Boiler & Welding Company Inc., the hot-water boiler was custom-designed to fit within very limited indoor space.

Under the direction of E. Dane Ash, project manager for Tyonek-Alcan Pacific LLC, the biomass boiler system was developed with Hurst representative Gregory W. Smith of Global Energy Solutions Inc. to address environmental concerns, as well as issues related to building space, fuel costs, comfort, reliability, and simplicity of operation. The new boiler is located on the lower level of the Discovery Center, which requires heating for a minimum of nine months a year. Local wood densified into fuel pucks is delivered to an elevated walking-floor storage bin in a vestibule area built to protect against excessive moisture. (The biomass-fired boiler can burn any wood product with up to 50-percent moisture content.) An auger moves pucks from the storage area to a metering bin and into the boiler. Freezing is not an issue because the walking floor easily breaks up any frozen contents.

The boiler system was designed to highlight how biomass can reduce or eliminate the use of fossil fuels. Visitors can see the boiler operate through specially designed windows. In the hall just outside of the boiler room, the noise level and ambient temperature is consistent with the rest of the building.


Fuel costs have been cut by two-thirds. The densified pucks are used with almost no residual ash; eventually, however, tree clippings from the Ketchikan walking trails will be ground and fed into the boiler, eliminating the need for transport to a landfill, burning, and other methods of disposal.

The Boiler

The Hurst S100 Series Fire Tube 27 HP Hydronic Water Heating Boiler features a pre-heater to optimize combustion and an underfeed stoker with dry-ash-removal system.


The system easily can be replicated for heat or heat/power generation up to 20,000 kw. In June 2011, Smith served as a keynote speaker for the fifth annual Native American Economic Development Conference in Anaheim, Calif., where he described the initiatives being implemented in Ketchikan and shared success stories of biomass-fired boiler systems installed on institutional campuses and in manufacturing facilities throughout the United States, particularly in challenging and remote locations. Systems include municipal solid waste, as well as woody biomass for steam production and steam to power.



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[-] 1 points by quantumystic (1710) from Memphis, TN 5 years ago

biomass is part of the solution if you can capture the pollutants. also this uses an immense amount of water a resource growing in scarcity in it's own right. in addition it requires biomass to be either farmed or harvested from nature this creates a whole new set of problems. how much harvesting from the natural environment before ecological damage occurs. how much arable land currently used for other production has to be converted and what are the effects of the conversion on these other goods and services. bio mass and natural gas can be an improvement on petroleum however it is not wind, solar, geothermal, tidal, or any other clean energy.

[-] 1 points by devasanskrit03 (1) 5 years ago

This will definitely reduce the use of fossil fuels and that would mean less pollution and less destruction of the earth. This is a good idea; hope the whole world will use natural gas instead. If everyone will cooperate maybe it will not be that costly.

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (33608) from Coon Rapids, MN 5 years ago

No no not at all - natural gas should not be costly or detrimental - ummm - depending on source and method of extraction - as well as proper use/applications.

[-] 0 points by Shayneh (-482) 5 years ago

Hurst boilers Co has been doing this for years. I installed one of their gas fired/wood buring boilers at a prison facility in GA years ago. The boilers primary fuel is natural gas.

Should there be a problem getting enough natural gas pressure they can switch over to burning wood but I doubt if they have ever done it.

I think they do test the wood burning side every year to make sure it workes as designed.