Focusing on a Sustainable Heating Source

Focusing on a Sustainable Heating Source

Messersmith biomass boiler rated at 3 MMBTU / hour

The use of forest residue as a heating fuel has a great potential to provide a renewable, clean source of energy while investing in rural economies. In the northern region of the U.S. one-third of all fossil fuel use is for thermal heating. Woody biomass can easily replace some of the fossil fuels used for thermal heating-- especially in the northern tier of forested states, where wood is abundantly available.

Use of woody biomass will serve to reduce the emission of geologically stored carbon into the atmosphere, help forest managers reduce the potential for wildfire through fuel reduction, provide markets for salvage from storm damaged forests, and reduce the likelihood of catastrophic occurrences of insects and diseases.

A goal at Itasca Community College is to use sustainable sources of energy. Academic programs at ICC, such as the natural resources program, the Engineering program and the Power Generation program have worked to develop a Biomass Project.

Itasca's campus covers nearly 12 acres and has almost 225,000 square feet of building space. In many ways, the college functions like a small community. The Biomass Project will serve as a showcase for the use of renewable energy for a town's or small city's heating needs.

Students at ICC work on the Biomass Project to identify forest fuels and its availability, establish heat value and provide engineering assistance for the heating system. The project helps students learn while doing and helps Itasca Community College meet its goal of becoming more sustainable.