December 22, 2005
Posted online January 7, 2005
Beat high heating bills with a corn
UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS
The combination of high fuel prices and low corn prices has
resulted in considerable interest in burning shelled corn to
produce heat for shops, garages, other out-buildings and even
homes reports Bob Frazee, University of Illinois Natural
Resources Educator. Researchers have found that dry shelled corn
can be an efficient heating fuel because it actually contains a
fair amount of energy and is relatively easy to handle.
University of Minnesota Agricultural Extension Engineers have
published a fact sheet which provides a way for comparing costs
for using different fuels. Frazee provides the following
examples: If shelled corn, priced at $2.00 per bushel, is burned
in a stove with an efficiency of 65%, the cost is $7.85 per
million Btu. For propane costing $1.00 per gallon and burning at
80% efficiency the cost would be $13.59 per million Btu. Natural
gas at $.80/ccf and 80% efficiency would cost $10.00 per million
Btu. Electricity at $.08/kWh and operated at 100% efficiency
would cost $23.44 per million Btu.
The above costs are for comparing fuel costs only. Frazee
emphasizes that individuals also need to consider the cost for
the burner, fuel storage, and other equipment needed to store,
handle and use the fuel, equipment maintenance, and labor to
handle the fuel and remove the ash. To download a copy of this
fact sheet, go to:
Other questions that should be considered before purchasing a
corn burner include:
Will the corn burner be a primary heat source or act as a
supplementary heat source?
How and where will corn be stored?
Are you prepared to clean out the clinker daily and clean the
heat exchanger of ash on a weekly basis?
Does your corn burner meet UL standards?
What type of exhaust venting is required?
According to Frazee, it is important to keep in mind that the
price for corn and for conventional fuels will fluctuate over
time and that the cheapest fuel today might not be the cheapest
fuel in the future.