The cost of gasoline today have gone up dramatically, and they only keep on going higher. Aside from that, our environment has also paid the price since we’ve started using fossil fuel to power different kinds of machinery. One alternative is using wood pellets. However, are wood pellets carbon neutral?
It is without a doubt that the burning of fossil fuel damages our ozone layer and pollutes the air that we breathe. To minimize this damage, we’ve started looking for alternatives that we can use to replace gasoline. All around the globe, hundreds of solutions have been presented, and a huge percentage of these solutions have gone down the drain.
One solution stood out, though—the use of wood pellets. If you are thinking of making the switch to using wood pellets too, then you have come to the right place. Here, we will try to figure out if this fuel-alternative is really as good as most people think it is. So, what is it exactly?
What Are Wood Pellets?
Waste residue from the continuous production of different materials will always be there. From this residue, a lot of materials can still be made. One of which is biomass energy or any source of fuel that can produce energy and is also renewable.
A wood pellet is a type of solid fuel acquired from densifying a wide variety of forestry byproducts, such as old paper, sawdust, timber, and the likes. It is about 2 centimeters long and up to 6 to 8 centimeters in diameter. Relative to its size, wood pellets come in packages and would require a large amount for every use.
It has gained popularity towards the start of the 21st century and is now widely used in different parts of the United States. Because of its growing number of consumers, more and more nurseries, fireplace dealers, and even garden supply stores have started selling the product.
People have been switching to wood pellets because it is believed to be less damaging to our environment since it comes from renewable sources.
What Are They Used For?
Since wood pellets is a form of solid fuel, it is used for certain machinery that used to run on gasoline. Although, it is yet to be able to power your car. So if it can’t be used for cars, then what else can you use it for? Apparently, a lot.
If you’re not a fan of charcoal, you may use wood pellets to replace them. These are more environment-friendly and leave lesser ash. However, you might need to invest in a grill that is specially designed for pellets instead of charcoal.
In over a million homes in the United States, wood pellets are also being used for central heating systems and is a good replacement for logs. A special pellet stove would also be better to get the maximum experience of the wood pellets.
Some huge factories in both Europe and the United States have also started burning wood pellets to produce electricity for mass usage. This has led to higher demand for biomass exports internationally.
However, despite all its positive effects, people have never shrugged off the question, “are wood pellets carbon neutral?”
What Does Carbon Neutral Mean?
Carbon-based fuels are burnt to produce the energy necessary to run certain machinery. When this fuel is burned, it releases carbon dioxide into the air and eventually reaches the atmosphere. However, in our race towards the restoration of our environment, we were able to produce carbon-based fuels that are carbon neutral.
The state of being carbon neutral means that a certain energy source does not release a fair amount of carbon dioxide that can be considered harmful to the earth’s atmosphere. It does not increase nor decrease it.
Carbon dioxide is food for our plants, which means it’s not bad in all ways, just too much of it is. Too much carbon dioxide leads to global warming, which then leads to multiple environmental disasters.
In the whole world’s endeavor to achieve clean energy, we have resorted to maximizing biomass energy, a source of renewable fuel from waste residues. Wood pellets help in preventing this from happening by reducing the amount of carbon dioxide that reaches the atmosphere. So does that mean wood pellets are carbon neutral?
Are Wood Pellets Carbon Neutral?
Not so long ago, it was a popular belief that all biomass energy is carbon neutral, which led to the conversion of a number of forests into wood pellets. These wood pellets are then shipped overseas, reaching up to seven million metric tons per year.
Despite being a source of renewable fuel, wood pellets are, in a sense, not carbon neutral. The mass shipment of wood pellets overseas also emits a huge amount of carbon dioxide that may be considered harmful to the atmosphere.
As we’ve mentioned earlier, plants and trees eat carbon dioxide, which means forests also serve as huge storage of carbon dioxide. Since a big part of our forests are harvested to produce wood pellets, the number of trees that stores all the carbon dioxide is also reduced.
Wood pellets are, in a sense, both carbon neutral and not. The pellet itself does not release a considerable amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, but the production of it does. The shipment and the taking down of forests are definitely harmful to our environment.
If we can find a way to eliminate these factors, then wood pellets are definitely the hope of our future. Wood pellets may not be as carbon neutral as we want it to be, but it’s definitely a start towards the restoration and regrowth of our environment.
Soon, we will find a renewable energy source that benefits us and our earth as well. But, for now, maybe we can settle for what is available at present.
Instead of using gasoline, which is non-renewable, maybe we can replace our old appliances with some new ones that can run on wood pellets. After all, we may have many options with the energy sources that we use, but we only have one earth. How we take care of it decides how good our stay here is.