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December 22, 2005
Posted online January 7, 2005

Beat high heating bills with a corn burner


Amaizablaze™ Corn StoveThe 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.

© 2005 The Cairo Gate