Can you burn wood biomass without smoke?

Burning wood properly gives off very low amounts of smoke particulates, and many wood-fired appliances are certified for smokeless zones. The Defra Smoke Control Zones website includes a list of exempt appliances, including wood-burning ones.

Other emissions from wood fuel contain virtually no sulphur dioxide and very low levels of nitrous oxides, so won’t cause acid rain.

It’s so important to burn efficiently; use properly seasoned wood (with low moisture content) and make sure that equipment is used properly. Manually fed stoves can produce lots of pollutants if operated badly.

Logs should be burned fiercely with lots of air input until they are almost charcoal, after which the stove can be ‘damped down’. Reducing the air supply too early creates lots of smoke & tar. The key is good ‘secondary combustion’ of the high-energy volatile gases given off by burning wood. Some stoves are fitted with a ‘Lamda’ sensor, to regulate the amount of oxygen added and so optimise efficiency. Avoid burning treated, painted or glued wood, or non-wood waste, as these will give off toxic and polluting gases.

Building regulations require all fuel burners to have a dedicated vent to avoid production of carbon monoxide. The chimney needs an insulated flue to prevent fumes condensing as tar. With complete combustion, wood burns to a small amount of ash, which (unlike coal ash) is an excellent fertiliser.

Contacts

BIOMASS Energy Centre - http://www.biomassenergycentre.org.uk/ - 01420 526197
  The BIOMASS Energy Centre, owned and managed by the Forestry Commission, aims to be a one stop shop for information, advice and guidance on biomass fuels and technologies.
Energy Saving Trust - http://www.est.org.uk/ - 0800 512 012
  Gives advice on saving energy in the home and local funding opportunities for renewable energy.
Log Pile - http://www.logpile.co.uk - 01908 665555
  Wood biomass suppliers and examples.
Microgeneration Certification Scheme - http://www.microgenerationcertification.org/ - 020 7090 1082
  The Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) certifies microgeneration products and installers. MCS accreditation is required for Feed-in Tariff and Renewable Heat Incentive support.

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