Minnesota biomass study to explore agricultural heating options

By Chris Hanson | May 06, 2013

Eventemp Biomass has announced it will participate in a study funded by the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute to explore the benefits of using biomass-derived heat in Minnesota poultry barns.

Jim Eiynck, owner of Eventemp Biomass’ national sales office in Becker, Minn., said the study will observe two barns; one utilizing liquid petroleum (LP), and the other woodchip biomass. The project will quantify the amount of LP and electricity utilized in a control barn and compare that performance with that of the barn heated by biomass. Additionally, the poultry will be assessed in each barn for chemical burns derived from ammonia exposure from the litter. “It’ll be the most extensive study from paw burn to electricity to LP gas, I think ever been done,” Eiynck said.

Initial observations have been made in other poultry barns using thermal biomass. Eiynck said the potential benefits of forced-air biomass applications originate from the dry heat the system produces. He cited some poultry producers have noticed drier wall insulation, elimination of open-flame heaters utilized in chick facilities, drier litter and lower fan use when utilizing forced-air biomass heaters in their barns. Eiynck cited one producer spending $33,000 to reinsulate a facility, only to have beetle population resurge within a year due to the wet insulation.

Eiynck discussed how dry litter has implications for healthier poultry. He said high ammonia levels can cause chemical burns on the poultry, which leads to revenue deductions for poultry farms. He recalled one producer experienced $82,000 in deductions for a single flock of poultry due to ammonia burns. Additionally, Eiynck explained drier manure would mean producers would be able to run exhaust fans at lower levels, thus saving on heating operations and fuel costs.

AURI is currently prepping for the study; however, Eiynck is already confident in the results.  He said biomass-derived heat “just makes sense” in the agricultural market. Furthermore, he anticipates the results will open future markets with other poultry producers throughout the state but also has potential for national utilization.