University of Strathclyde Biomass Installation Feasibility Tool


Project Description

Project basis:

In the present world, with increasing fossil fuel cost and a general agenda to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, sustainable generation has won importance in every sector of society. Given the fact that for heating purposes the energy is usually generated through combustion processes, how to reduce the impact of such form of energy became a great challenge.

In order to avoid fossil fuel burning, the utilization of electricity for heating purposes can be one solution. The electricity generated from a renewable source, such as wind or the Sun, can supply “clean” heat. However, electricity is still too expensive for heating purposes and without adequate education and implementation of effective control systems to manage peak periods, its increasing popularity can become problematic for the electricity suppliers.

Another solution is the introduction of hybrid systems as sources of heat to the buildings. Not using just electricity, but a series of other sources of energy, which will together supply the requested energy with low environmental impact.

Biomass boilers are able to supply part of this energy with low CO2 emission, especially when compared to traditional boilers. Here you can find more information about the closed carbon cycle, which is the key to understand why although involving combustion, biomass is a sustainable source of energy.

There is one downside though. Biomass systems have specific requirements - they may need large spaces and require a significant investment. A feasibility study mustbe performed in order to estimate the requirements of a biomass system for a given location. In the past, many projects were cancelled after a lengthy feasibility analysis, because the building couldn't fulfil the requirements. Another problem is the lack of knowledge of the common public about the subject, generating myths and causing slowdown of the development of the biomass industry.  

There is a need for a public tool able to take the user through stages of a feasibility study, highlighting main information at each of these steps in a simple and fast way. Additionally, it should work as a educational tool for anyone wanting to learn more about biomass.

Project aim:

Create an Excel-based tool which is capable of:

  • Taking the designer step-by-step through an evaluation of feasibility
  • Sizing the boiler
  • Selecting the fuel
  • Designing and sizing fuel storage system
  • Sizing thermal buffer store
  • Flagging up all of the potential issues with a given installation
  • Investigating environmental issues

Project results:

1) A comprehensive tool combining multiple aspects of feasibility analysis

2) A framework capable of performing sensitivity analysis in order to determine critical design factors such as the impact of the quality of fuel on the annual cost or the impact of a colder year on fuel demand and its storage capacity.