Guide To Solid Fuel
Solid fuel can be defined as any type of solid material that can be used as a fuel to produce energy and heating. This is predominantly achieved through burning the materials, and the most common types of solid fuel are coal, wood, charcoal and wood pellets.
Coal is without question the most famous and distinguishable solid fuel. A combustible, sedimentary, organic rock (composed primarily of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen) coal is formed from vegetation, which has been consolidated between other rock strata to form coal seams, and altered by the combined effects of microbial action, pressure and heat over a considerable time period.
Coal is afforded a classification of "rank" which is based on the degree of the original plant material's transformation to carbon. The ranks of coal, from those with the least carbon to those with the most carbon, are:
1. Bituminous – Hard Coal
2. Anthracite – Hard Coal
3. Lignite – Low Rank
4. Sub Bituminous – Low Rank
A combination of the UK Clean Air Acts, and advances in manufacturing technology saw the introduction of smokeless fuels. A smokeless fuel is one that produces less than 5g of smoke per hour when burnt and can therefore be used in the Smoke Control Areas which were designated by the Clean Air Acts, and remain active today.
Using naturally occurring smokeless coal like Anthracite we have been able to develop high performance smokeless fuels that produce a high heat for long periods. For instance, the Homefire range produces around 25% fewer C02 emissions than house coal without losing any of its performance characteristics.
Manufactured smokeless fuel has quickly established itself as one of the most popular types of solid fuel, due to its high quality performance, reliability and in some cases environmental benefits. For instance, Ecoal50 is the first smokeless fuel to be made using 50% renewable materials, without compromising on performance. The result is 80% less smoke and 40% less C02 when compared with house coal.
Burning solid fuels can often help save money on heating bills. It is widely documented that gas and electricity providers continue to hike up prices each winter. It is estimated that you could save up to £1,200 per annum by switching off the central heating, and lighting a fire! And in most cases, the warmth from a front room fireplace will spread to the other main rooms in the house.
Solid fuel has played a major role in heat generation for centuries and, with advancements in fuels occurring every year, it will continue to be a dominant energy source going forward.
Traditionally solid fuels such as coal have been burnt on open fires - which was often the main source of heating for the whole house. However, as technology and heating methods have developed in the UK, the industry has seen a range of closed appliances introduced to domestic households. The most common of these is the multi-fuel stove, which enables homeowners to burn smokeless fuels, logs - or a combination of both. Other examples of closed appliances include wood burners, gravity fed boilers and room heaters. We would always advise that you consult with the manufacturer of your appliance on which fuels to burn, as some may not be suitable in a closed system.
We strongly recommend you take a look at our innovative Fuel Chooser, which enables you to find the right fuel for your appliance. Search via heat output, smoke emissions or simply by the appliance you own to discover which is the best performing fuel for you.
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