WITH THE GOVERNMENT offering a grant for alternative fuels in the home, and green tech seen as a proper investment, we're looking at wood pellets to replace our heating oil. From the look of things, it would have been worthwhile to journey to my Iowa cousins this month where there are plenty of pellets and corn to fire up the Bixby stoves I've spotted online in various midwest US hardware shops. They don't need wood pellets or fuel gel. They can run on corn. "Just push the "ON" button and the stove automatically dispenses the necessary amount of corn to the fire pot and ignites it in minutes. The local Tipperary plumber says the output (from 8,000 to 50,000 BTU's) could power a back boiler arrangement in our garage. It could be coupled to a thermostat. The bins on the stoves can hold more than 100 pounds of corn which means it would run nearly a week between refills. Bixby Energy's Biomass Stove System accepts corn, wood pellets and bio-fuel pellets.
Testers at Cornell University checked out the Bixby biomass stove's unique self-cleaning fire pot and confirmed that "the stove is designed for burning corn. The bottom one inch of the burn pot contents is periodically cut off and dumped in an ash drawer". Cornell testers thought the Bixby Energy Biomass Stove was the cleanest stove they tested. The stove's hopper has a “ferris wheel” design. Fuel drops into slots in the wheel and then is released one slot at a time into the burn pot. This design prevents jamming from pieces of cob and other foreign material in corn grain.
From an Iowan in a prairie ghost town:
"The marriage of low-tech fuel and high-tech solutions has finally arrived. All this in an easy to operate, low maintenance, low-upkeep stove. For the winter of 2004/'05, I used under 110 bushels of corn to heat the house; and some of that went to feed the goats and chickens! For 2005/06, I used 45 bushels of corn from October 10, 2005 through January 2006. That's an average of about four gallons of corn a day".