Wood Pellet vs Coal

Wood Pellet Vs. Coal: In Details Comparison

Since global warming is now the most talkative issue in recent years, general peoples are now always trying to use or buy something that is leveled as environmentally friendly or carbon-free tags or produce a safe amount of carbon. It is ethically wrong to burn or using something without knowing that is safe for the environment or not.

Wood Pellet vs Coal

Coal is one of the most primitive and also most popular sources of burning fuel in the world. But most of the countries banned or limited using coal since it is not safe for the environment. In some countries or states, you have to take special permission from the government if you wanna use coal in the household. Nowadays, people of modern countries are pretty curious about wood pellets as it is marked as one of the finest sources of burning fuels. 

Today we are going to discuss wood pellets and coal in a comparable style. Hopefully, it will help you to understand which one is the best.     

Wood Pellet Vs. Coal: Head To Head Comparison

Cost

Coal is far cheaper than a pellet stove. It is because the demand for coal is decreasing day by day since mining coal is very dangerous and burning coal is considered harmful for the environment. But there is a huge amount of reserve coal available in the world. If we compare the cost per unit of heat (in BTU) then we can observe that the price per ton of wood pellet has to be reduced to $140 per ton to equal the cost of one ton of coal. It is because one pound of coal produce almost twice heats as one pound of wood pellets. So, you have to buy 2 pounds of wood pellet to match the heat generated by 1 pound of coal in a stove. 

Availability

It has been a big challenge to find wood pellets in your area since there are very few wood pellet manufacturer industries in the world. Wood pellets are only found in a few states of North America and some developed counties of Europe. One will face trouble finding wood pellets during late winter since most of the dealers shift their wood pellets from winter inventory to spring inventory. 

But, at present, things have been changed a lot. Now, they are available in some Asia also.

On the other hand, you may find numerous suppliers of coal all around the world. Russia has a huge reservation of coal which they had mined in world war 2. At that time there was a huge demand for coal since most of the power plants and engines run combusting coal.

Maintenance

The maintenance of the reading stove is not that difficult since you can run a complete season without cleaning it. But, you have to clean the pellet stove at least once a month, otherwise, it will not perform like new.

Weight Calculation

If you purchase one ton of coal from a supplier of household use, then you are not sure that you have as much you have paid for. You can’t calculate that much coal at a time.

On the other hand, pellets are always packed in bags. So, you can count it easily and calculate the amount very easily. 

Moisture Level

Normally purchased coal contains 12% moisture where wood pellets contain only 10% moisture. Coal absorbs more moisture when it is kept outdoor. Moist coal weighs more and produces greater smoke and becomes very difficult to burn. The moisture level of the wood pellet remains nearly constant since it is always kept in a good-quality plastic bag. So, they rarely get in contact with the open air.

Ash

Burning 1000 kg of coal in a stove produces 100 kg of waste (ash). When you are burning coal you have to keep it in your mind that you have to deal with lots of waste. Moreover, when you are paying for 1000 kg of coal, you can use only 900 kg of coal. The rest of 100 kg will be a waste of money. Contrariwise, wood pellet burns clean and they produce lesser smoke and ash. Combusting 1 ton of pellets in a wood pellet stove produces only 5 remarkably low kg ash. One of the best benefits you will get from the residual ash produced by wood pellets is you can use them in your garden as a fertilizer if you have any available at your home.

Storage

Storing coal is pretty hard. It is not clear so you can’t store it inside your house. You have to make a special storage room for keeping it in reserve for later use. Also, coal absorbs moisture quickly. So, you have to build a storeroom that is close, not open. On the other hand, you can store wood pellets easily inside your house since they are clean, don’t make your house dirty like coal, they come up in a high-quality bag.

Pest 

Coal doesn’t attract pests, insects, or any harmful creatures. So, you don’t need to use pesticides in your coal storeroom. But, since pellet is made of industrial wood waste and the main component is wood, they may attract the pest and many wood insects inside if you keep wood pellet without any plastic bag. That is why we always recommend keeping the wood pellet inside a plastic bag. Otherwise, they will attract many wood insects.

Carbon Emission 

Researchers found that the wood pellet power plant of Europe and the UK emits more carbon dioxide per kilowatt-hour than generated by coal power plants comparing the production of the same amount of power burning them. We check the data of the British Drax Power Plant which is one of the largest biomass and coal-burning power stations in North England.

Other Harmful Gases

Combusting coal emits very harmful toxic gases like Carcinogen Benzo(a)pyrene which they release in the atmosphere and it may harm your lungs if you inhale it. Burning wood pellets also produce toxic gases but it is very negligible and the harm it is done will become balanced by producing oxygen formed by photosynthesis when the tree is growing since it is made from wood.

Pellet Vs Coal Emission Comparison

Below we have stated the harmful gas emission report of Ontario Power Generation (OPG) stations. This power production company has been converted to wood pellet in 2014: 

  • They state that wood-based power generation produces 75% less nitrogen oxide than coal. They had succeeded to reduce 5,411 tons of nitrogen oxides from 2011 to 2015.
  • The annual Sustainability Performance Report of OPG shows that the emission of Sulphur dioxide (SO2) had been reduced to 11,160 tons between 2011 to 2015.
  • The emission of mercury had also reduced to 43kg between these 5 years 

In the below table, we have listed OPG’s thermal atmospheric emission rates: 

Name of Emitted Gas

In Year 2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

Sulphur Dioxide (tons)

11,264

9,705

9,812

550

104

Nitrogen Oxides (tons, as NO2)

5,794

6,515

4,989

654

383

Mercury (kilograms)

43 kg

25 kg

28 kg

2.3 kg

0 kg

 Sources:

https://www.pellet.org/power-generation/breathing-easier-pellet-emissions-vs-coal