Evaluating Sources and Control Method for Small Scale Hydronic Heaters

Period of Performance: 01/01/2012 - 12/31/2012


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

13429 SE 30TH ST STE A
Bellevue, WA 98005
Principal Investigator
Firm POC


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a directive for improving air quality standards pertaining to wood smoke emissions and is undergoing an update of the New Source Performance Standards (NSPS). Implementation of new emission standards will prohibit the sale of a majority of existing woody biomass heating systems used for central heating. With a majority of these installations occurring in rural and small farm situations, the regulation presents a potential disruption to the energy source may farmers use to offset high energy prices. This regulation includes a timeline for further tightening of emission regulations, starting with EPA Phase 2 and going to EPA Phase 3 by 2015/16. As large consumers of wood heat, small and midsize farms are adversely affected by these stricter regulations and the diminished number of products available. The objective of the project is to determine the feasibility of developing and implementing a source reduction or control reduction method that will reduce large particulate emissions from a small wood-fired boiler so that it may comply with Washington State standards (and EPA Phase 3 emission levels) while negligibly affecting the cost or operational maintenance required by the small-farm operator. This project continues the research and development of the past five years and begins with a hydronic heater technology that already meets EPA Phase 2 performance standards and explores enhancements that have been employed in European boilers and in industrial applications. Research and experiments will begin using an EPA Phase 2 qualified hydronic heater and explore the impact performance improvement created through the use of source control methods (e.g. oxygen sensor) and then a control method reduction (e.g. a particle separator). The results will be compared against baseline data providing insights on emission improvement, critical operating parameters and preliminary indications regarding the impact of these technologies on operating and maintenance requirements. The results of this work will lead to a hydronic heater that will meet future EPA standards and one that is also significantly cheaper than European alternatives while be easier to maintain and operate.