The Energy Matrix
A Science Ebook e-zine
Fall 2007 Edition  
List of all editions

Pellet Heating

The energy matrix examines the full spectrum of future energy sources and associated problems.  It is meant to be a thought provoking publication for students who will be our future technocrats, engineers, and physicists.  We will include concepts such as solar, DG, CHP and concepts that are not practical today such as ice engines.  Send Comments to




Cost of burning,  wood pellets, corn or coal compared.

I learned from a recent email that both wood pellets and corn could be burnt in stoves.  Modern split log, wood, or corn stoves produce 90% less smoke than older conventional stoves.  

I also learned that outside furnace systems were being used to efficiently heat homes in rural areas.  These pellet stoves had automatic pellet feeders and can work for days or weeks unattended.

    Click Here to continue! 



Coal at $35.00/ton versus $100.00 a barrel oil.

11/7/2007: With crude oil approaching $100.00 per barrel it is time for US to do some comparative shopping.  Windmills are great, but coal is here today and is used to generate half our nation's electricity.

Dollar Cost: (MMBtu=1000000Btu)
25 MMBtu/ton   $35.00/ton

Crude Oil:
5,6MMBtu/barrel  $98.00/barrel

Carbon Cost in pounds CO2/MMBtu 
oal- 208
Crude Oil- 164
Natural Gas-
117 pounds/MMBtu
Reference U.C. Irvine

Roughly 66% of energy of gasoline is wasted as heat by typical car during city driving.  Roughly 66% of coal energy is wasted in cooling towers or rivers at coal power plants.  Thus, both coal powered electric cars and gasoline or diesel cars have about the same thermal efficiency. 


Index for all Editions


Combined Heat & Power (CHP) 

DC Power Grid

District Cooling

Ethanol Viability

Hybrid Cars

Ice made with Coal

Ice Energy Density versus Battery

Heat Storage


Nuclear Energy

Solar Heat Storage in CO2

Solar Heat Storage in Water

Storing Carbon Dioxide

Stoves - Corn Burning

Stoves - Wood Pellet Burning

Stoves - Coal Burning

Tar Sand Oil


Yucca Mountain

Substituting Coal for Diesel

Compact Fluorescent Lights

































Cost of burning,  wood pellets, corn or coal compared.

A reader wrote the following in an email.

"I just bought a wood pellet stove to heat my house as a way to lower my carbon foot print and hopefully save $$$. It is interesting that a 40 lb bag of wood pellets cost $6.00 at our local hardware stores and a 40 lb bag of corn at our Walmart costs $5.45 for cracked corn and $5.89 for whole corn."
From: Mike



I calculated that 143 lb of corn  = One MMBtu (One Million British thermal units)

From above quote:
I  calculated that Cracked Corn retail price was 13.6 cent per pound.
and thus
$19.44 per MMBtu retail


About three 48 pound Bushels per MMBtu 

 Cost of three bushels of corn $12.00 
Just a few years ago three bushels were $7.50
Price of corn is a function of crop size versus food, ethanol and pellet demand.

 Read: Government Report on Corn as heating fuel



From above quote pellets cost 15 cents a pound.
I read that pellet bulk cost = $187 per ton or 9 cents a pound

Wood 8000 Btu/lb
125 pounds per MMBtu.

$11.25 per MMBtu buying bulk
 18.75 per MMBtu buying retail
Price of wood pellets is a function of amount sawdust produced by lumber mills, which is a function of housing construction.


Heating Oil and Propane

Based on price I've Paid
$20.00 per MMBtu and rising. (Supply not secure)
C8H18 > 8CO2 + 9H2O  (Oxygen came from air.)
It is not renewable, but much of its energy comes from hydrogen instead of carbon.



Per DOE/EIA  Utilities paid on average $36.00 per ton
or 1.8 cents per pound.  Coal has more than 10,000 Btu per pound. 
Calculates to 
$1.80 per MMBtu or $5.40 per 3.0 MMBtu

Utilities deliver roughly 33% of the coal energy to the home, because of thermodynamics, machine friction, resistive losses, and electromagnetic radiation. 

Utilities paid $9.83 per MMBtu liquid petroleum and $7.50 per MMBtu natural gas per DOE/EIA in fiscal year 2007.

$5.40 per MMBtu is coal fuel cost per customer with electric furnace or baseboard heater.

 Heat pump can typically output about 10,000 Btu per kilowatt hour (3,412 Btu/kWh).
 $1.80 per MMBtu is the coal fuel cost per customer with a electric heat pump.

Assume retail cost of one kilowatt hour averages 10 cents (Adjust for your region ).
Roughly $29.30 per MMBtu using resistive heating.
Roughly $9.76 per MMBtu using heat pump.

Note that I did not mention coal stoves for homes.  See killer Smog 1952
Burning 3 pounds of coal (30,000 Btu) outside of city nets 10,000 Btu in electric furnace in city home.  Prevents killer smog in cities but can still cause acid rain in rural areas downwind of power plants.  Ironically it has been discovered that smoke from power plants causes haze, which reflects sunlight and has global cooling effect.  When scrubbers are installed on more and more plants reflective smoke haze will be reduced.  Carbon dioxide which is transparent to visible light will continue lock in heat trying to escape in inferred spectrum, making global warming worse. 
Reference cable TV. Can't remember name of show. 



Reference Links

Cord weight, BTU's

Price of coal

Cost of Corn








Refining Tar Sand oil in great lakes region meets with  considerable opposition.

Nov 2, 2007
As oil prices top $95 a barrel, the US will look  more and more to Canada's Tar Sand Oil reserves.  Plans to pipe oil from Canada's Tar sands to refineries in US are meeting with a great deal of opposition from US environmentalists concerned with increased pollution of the Great Lakes. See Links below:






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