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CT Furniture Co. delivers energy ingenuity.

Wood-fired boiler eliminates landfill costs while producing free heat.

Linkwood Furniture of Windsor Hill, Conn., proved that "adversity breeds ingenuity" by purchasing a wood-fired boiler to eliminate huge disposal costs and produce free energy. The recent recession has encouraged increased competition in the wood products industry which has led to a "survival-of-the-fittest" situation. Wood products companies like Linkwood are looking to trim extraneous costs or risk being squeezed out of the shrinking market.

Companies face tough challenges in the current economic recovery as a result of increased environmental awareness and rising solid waste-disposal and energy costs. To cope with these problems, Brian Lyman, president of Linkwood, bought a G&S Mill Model 565 wood-fired boiler in 1989. Linkwood Furniture is only 14 years old, but continues to expand today with 42 employees manufacturing household oak furniture.

Boiler increases productivity

Linkwood's 90-horsepower boiler burns wood waste as fuel to generate hot water for heating needs. "Wood is less expensive than oil or gas," said Lyman. "We can use our own wood waste as free fuel for the boiler system."

Linkwood's hot water system consists of a low-pressure firebox boiler and a unique multi-zone grate system that provides efficient combustion of its dry wood fuel (10 percent moisture content). The boiler produces up to 1,800,000 BTU per hour output and can burn about 260 pounds of wood fuel per hour.

The boiler's automatic feed system and intelligent control panel require low boiler operator involvement to monitor all functions of the system, Lyman explained. Before Linkwood purchased the automatic boiler, it had a manual dust collection system to move all the dust material into the dumpster. Linkwood now has a central dust collection system which automatically feeds all the dust material into storage bins and then into the wood-fired boiler itself. "Automation reduces our labor costs and thereby improves the productivity of the overall facility," Lyman said.

One-year payback

Elimination of Linkwood's huge landfill fees and oil bills resulted in significant cost savings. If wood-fired boilers will save a company money with its wood waste and reduce its energy costs, then a company can have a payback of under two years. "In 1989 when we bought the boiler we estimated a payback of 18 months," Lyman said, "but with the current landfill fees and heating costs that I would be paying today, we had a payback of only a year."

According to a recent National Solid Wastes Management Assn. report, the scarcity of remaining landfill space and increased environmental protection continues to drive up the cost of dumping wood waste. "Prior to installing the wood-fired system we had a wood waste removal cost of $6,000 for the month," said Lyman. "With the new boiler in place it was only $118." Today, Lyman estimates that his tipping fees would exceed $15,000 a month because many landfills in Connecticut require companies to pay additional environmental "user's costs."

While landfill costs continue to escalate, wood fuel also makes financial sense for Linkwood Furniture because it is essentially a free energy source. Replacing its oil burning system with the wood-fired hot water boiler has made all the difference with the heating bills according to Lyman. "We used to heat the building with oil and now we no longer buy oil at all. The boiler is the primary source of heat now. We still have the oil furnace as a backup system, but we haven't had to use it yet."

Not only does Linkwood's use of wood waste eliminate significant landfill fees and deliver free energy, but oil prices will continue to rise with today's increased reliance on foreign oil. Lyman estimates that he would be paying at least $50,000 a year to heat the building with oil today.

Heating buildings with wood rather than oil shows impressive savings when comparing equivalent BTU outputs, Lyman said. A 90-horsepower boiler using wood energy saves about $12 an hour on the oil bill during the operation. Companies can cut their heating bills by approximately $15,4000 a month by burning wood for 24 hours a day over oil, he added.

Clean emissions producer

Linkwood's savings with wood energy is the key to the quick payback, but wood-fired boilers also can provide clean emissions to meet today's stringent air quality requirements. Linkwood's system can operate in compliance with current EPA regulations without costly add-on pollution control equipment. "We have no problems with the boiler," Lyman said, "and there's no smoke coming out of the boiler stack. Local and state officials have even complimented us on our boiler system."
COPYRIGHT 1992 Vance Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Linkwood Furniture Co. of Windsor Hill, Connecticut employs a wood-fired boiler to dispose waste and generate energy
Publication:Wood & Wood Products
Date:Jul 1, 1992
Previous Article:Grinder turns wood waste into fuel.
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