A conversation with Bob Jennings about new ways to heat with wood

On this week’s podcast I spoke with Bob Jennings, an engineer who specializes in alternative heating systems. In his view, the sun and the forests are major sources of practical renewable energy for New England’s near future. He designs and installs solutions based on solar hot water, and also on wood gasification boilers like the one whose installation and use I described here.

Most experts agree that we’ll need to replace oil with a mix of renewable sources. In regions where wood biomass is an important ingredient in that mix, we’ll need modern technologies that burn the stuff cleanly and efficient. Bob Jennings reflects on existing and emerging options: pellet stoves, pellet boilers, and wood gasification boilers.

6 Comments

  1. Jon, toward the end of the podcast, you mention a removable interior storm window consisting of a frame with plastic stretched across it.

    I made a few of these in the 1970’s for my home in Ohio. Just like you, I got sick of taping or stapling a plastic sheet to the windows. I had been making a few of my own picture frames anyway, and one day I got the idea to make a removable storm window.

    It wasn’t quite as easy as I had expected. The old windows had slightly inconsistent dimensions, making it hard to get a really good fit, and the frame was so large that it tended to bow in the middle from the tension of the stretched plastic. (I shrank the plastic pane just for a better appearance).

    It didn’t seal as well as ones I taped right to the window frame, but it was a plenty good improvement over not using anything.

  2. It’s true, using oil is like a thrill ride at an amusement park. One where you’re not sure how it is going to end, but you know eventually you will have to get off.
    People are tired of the ride and realize they need to make a change. I’ve jumped on board the pellet wagon and I also wonder how this ride will end. I just became certified to install and service pellet stoves and I’m manufacturing pellets. The trick to winning people over is not just to make pellets cheaper than oil but also as easy. When harvested and manufactured correctly, ie. not leveling the woods, pellets can have some pretty saucy words tagged onto them- clean, efficient, renewable, local, sustainable. Check out my plan, I’d love to figure out the delivery system, I’m hoping to spend my summer building silos and delivering pellets. here’s the address of my humble blog http://blog.sleepersriveralternative.com

  3. Sorry, I was actually leaving the comment for the other post about pellets. My comments were discarded and after all that typing, I couldn’t let it go to waste.
    Cheers,
    p.s. very interesting thread by the way.

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