How I Reduced My Carbon Footprint by Burning Anthracite

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Stoker Coal Boiler: AHS S130 Coal Gun
Coal Size/Type: Blaschak Anthracite Pea
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Location: N/E Ohio, between Medina and Wadsworth

Post Tue. Oct. 22, 2013 6:21 pm

Prior to installing the AHS Coal Gun boiler our house was all electric. 45% of electricity is made from coal, but the process of generating electricity from coal is highly inefficient, and at your local electrical utility the BTU value of the electricity coming out is only about 40% (at most) of the BTU value of the coal going in. But with my AHS Coal Gun I'm recovering fully 65% or more of the available BTU value in the coal as heat, for both room heating and DHW.

The bottom line is that by burning the coal myself our homes carbon footprint is appreciably lower than it was when our house was all electric. Save the planet. Burn coal for heat, and don't heat your house with electricity. :D

UPDATE: I just saw a link which stated that the average coal fired electrical plant uses 1.07 lbs. of coal per KWH produced. If the average 1 lb of coal used for electrical generation has 10,000 BTU's, and we know that 1 KWH = 3,412 BTU's, then the efficiency of the average coal fired electrical utility is 3,412/10,000 x 100 = 34%

The conclusion is that my carbon footprint is roughly half that of a coal fired electrical utility plant.

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Post Tue. Oct. 22, 2013 8:04 pm

don't forget the line loss associated with getting that kW of electric generated at the plant to your house.

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Location: N/E Ohio, between Medina and Wadsworth

Post Tue. Oct. 22, 2013 8:35 pm

titleist1 wrote:don't forget the line loss associated with getting that kW of electric generated at the plant to your house.
Yes, that makes burning the coal yourself all the more beneficial to your carbon footprint.

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Post Tue. Oct. 22, 2013 8:55 pm

But you are still using electricity in your house. Electric heat is 100 % efficient (or close to it). I don't think baseboard heat is 100% efficient, think of all the losses, friction,standby, pump uses electricity and is not 100%, you have heat going up and away in the chimney,and 100% of your coal doesn't burn. All you are doing is taking out the middle man,( when you could be a job creator, Al Gore hear that?), depriving the state and government of the taxes and surcharges and yet creating pollution on a smaller scale with the emissions that aren't cleaned and creating waste with the coal ash instead of using it to pave highways and make concrete.
In the end, you are just breaking even.
As I climbed in the far corner of my coal bin tonight, to scrap and shovel the last bit of last years coal closer to the auger, I fill my nostrils with black soot and ponder that as soon as I die, somebody in this family will rip this coal boiler out. Hope coal cost the same this year as last. :bang: :blah:

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Post Tue. Oct. 22, 2013 10:03 pm

What? He's not using electric to heat with, so he's benefiting his footprint (if you only consider the heating portion) by 3 times. It takes at minimum 3 times the coal (coal burned at the power plant) to heat his house with electric than if he just burns the coal himself... :D Sure the boiler uses some electric but only a fraction of what electric heat would suck up..

Unfortunately it wouldn't be advantageous to generate your own electric with coal, so yer gonna use electric for other things anyways.. ;)

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Post Wed. Oct. 23, 2013 12:57 am

I was having this same discussion the other day with a co-worker that thinks I'm destroying the earth by heating with coal.... He heats with an electric heat pump, which has no emissions! Uhh, right. Brunner Island will burn at least 3x as much of Valier's finest bitty to heat his place, as I will need to burn anthracite for my place!

In the winter months, burning the DS not only eliminates the need to use any electricity for space heating. It also cuts down on how much my hot water heater runs. I have a heat pump water heater, and its job is made much easier by being in a warm environment. This past winter was the first time I've ever had my electric bill drop below $40 per month! Talk about a carbon footprint reduction!

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Post Wed. Oct. 23, 2013 11:18 am

It gets worse

On the days that these wonderful wind farms are sellling to the grid -- the power from coal , NG and Nuks goes exponentially into the ground -- wasted :shock:

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Post Wed. Oct. 23, 2013 3:16 pm

Lots of figures missing from your analysis. Like Mozz said, the cost of maintaining the grid. All those utility trucks don't run for free, not to mention manufacturing and installing the copper, transformers, creosote treated poles and the office/shop support for everything. All those buildings, parking lots and people leave a pretty big footprint. But some of that can be discounted because you still need power from the grid. Then there are increased efficiencies in transporting coal by barge or train rather than delivering small amounts to your house. But then I can dump my coal ash in the lane instead of running a fleet of trucks to haul it somewhere for disposal. Then there is a huge advantage in having your fuel on site and a stove not dependent on the grid delivery system every minute of the day. But I agree, coal is a better choice than electric of even oil that must be transported halfway around the globe.

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Post Sat. Oct. 26, 2013 5:36 am

I cannot comprehend heating with electric, unless living in the deep south where it doesn't often get very cold. The costs of electric heat must be horrific! When I was stationed in the Northern Virginia area for the first time in the late 1980s, the realtor showing me houses had about 30 on her list. Half were electric heat. I politely told her that it was either natural gas or nothing. Didn't burn coal back then - was away at sea too often!! But now, living out in the sticks of the U.P. of Michigan, my heat is primarily coal, secondary wood, tertiary propane. :D

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Post Sat. Oct. 26, 2013 7:19 am

Dennis, electric heat is very economical in some areas. I used to live in a house with electric EVERYTHING in a Village (on the Canadian border) that had a deal with Hydro Quebec...I think the power cost was 0.035 per KWH, that was the final delivered cost. Nearly every house in the village had electric heat, some of the older homes had electric boilers installed. The only time our electric bill ever cracked $100 was in December-February, and I don't remember it being much over $100. Anyway, back to Larry's sure seems like burning a fuel at the point of use has the potential to be more efficient than transferring the energy a long distance. Kind of like having a coal boiler in the basement instead of an outbuilding with underground piping.

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