2010 Feb. 2: RAWSEP View: Aim for no wood burning

2010 Feb. 2: RAWSEP View: Aim for no wood burning
 
Wood burning produces Black Carbon.  Black Carbon (soot) (particulates) is the 2nd leading cause of global warming.  Stopping Black Carbon is the quickest way to slow climate change.  Often ignored is the fact that wood burning also releases CO2.  Additionally, particulates from wood smoke cause cancer, heart and lung damage, asthma, cataracts and early death.  Residential wood burning for home heating and hot water heating using outdoor wood boilers and wood stoves is complained about by neighbors of wood burning residents.  Outdoor wood boilers have been banned in Washington State for several years.  Public comment during February 2010 is being sought for Outdoor Wood Boiler regulations in Pennsylvania, Indiana, Rhode Island and Connecticut.  Buybacks of the most polluting Outdoor Wood Boilers is law in Maine and proposed law in Vermont this month.  Fairbanks Alaska is struggling to come up with laws to regulate and eventually ban wood stoves, which contribute the majority of particulate pollution in the greater Fairbanks area.  Wood stoves are already banned in Montreal, Canada because of the health hazard in winter.  There are particulate alerts issued in most states across the nation and usually the advice to the public is "don’t burn wood".  Burning biomass is a more primitive form of energy generation than TRUE gasification.  There is a process known as "wood gasification" which is not yet perfected.  99% wood gasification only should have the designation "wood gasification", but since 1% or more wood gasification occurs with any wood combustion, however primitive and polluting, at this time Outdoor Wood Boiler manufacturers advertize their products as "wood gasification", which is misleading and prevents public education about what wood gasification really is.  Wood gasification is probably as hard to achieve as Clean Coal, but since the trend is to substitute wood for fossil fuels, TOTAL WOOD GASIFICATION  or TOTAL PARTICULATE CAPTURE must be a goal of those seeking to subsitute wood for fossil fuels.  Otherwise, the only major benefit of the substitution would be domestic supply rather than foreign supply.  Natural gas is cheap and plentiful in the United States.  For residential heating, a natural gas furnace produces 1/400 the particulates of a wood stove and 1/1800 of the particulates of an outdoor wood boiler.  Why is there a loophole on measurement of emissions from residential wood burning?  Neighbors seeking relief from the life-threatening pollution of a residential wood burning device find there are usually no laws in place and they must push for local laws, enforcement of existing statewide laws on stationary source emissions (only enforced in the State of Washington, hence Washington’s status as the "only state that bans".), and look to the EPA for relief by strengthening of their New Source Performance Standards for wood stoves, under review this year.  Those seeking relief also look to the Black Carbon Reduction Act contained in the U.S. House ACES (Clean Energy) Bill passed in June 2009 and the Black Carbon Study Act passed by the U.S. Senate in September 2009.  In short, the substitution of fossil fuels by wood gasification must be done taking into the account the complex issues of particulate emissions and particulate capture that must be implemented in any biomass scheme.  Manure disgestion plants produce a methane gas which is cleaner in particulates than burning biomass. Turning eventually to no biomass sources, but rather to solar, wind and geothermal for residential heating AND industrial production is the best way to ensure the future is safe from climate change and health hazards.

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