LWP Blog

Do Our Wood Pellets Have Papal Approval?

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Last week Liverpool wood pellets were contacted by customer June Whitelaw.  She had a wood pellet boiler system installed by our sister company Tundra Wood Heating Systems last October.  As part of the warranty offered by Tundra for biomass boilers they insist that Balcas Brites wood pellets must be used in Tundra boilers.  This is not a marketing technique to ensure customers buy their wood pellets from us, indeed as long as they use Balcas Brites wood pellets in their boiler they can be purchased from anywhere a customer wishes.  The actual reason for this is that our colleagues at Tundra have seen time and time again the problems which can be caused by using inferior wood pellets in biomass boilers...

A site visit was undertaken to ascertain the cause of the problem with her boiler, although June was honest enough to admit that she knew already knew the origin. “I’d been using Balcas Brites wood pellets since my boiler was fitted.  Tundra gave me with a free half pallet of wood pellets to start me off and I was more than happy with them so placed my repeat orders with Liverpool Wood Pellets.  In January I was running low and I’d come across a local stockist who I could get delivery of wood pellets from so I ordered my pellets from them.  I didn’t even think to ask if they were the Balcas ones.  As soon as I walked outside my house I should have known something wasn’t right.  Where the smoke from my chimney had been white and hardly noticeable since the boiler was fitted, it had changed almost overnight to a greyish black colour.”

As it happens, June was quite lucky and the remedial action to repair her boiler and remove the remaining inferior quality pellets was not too costly.  With a new delivery of Balcas Brites wood pellets she was back up and running within 48 hours.  June’s experience is not unique, and it is a source of frustration for us that customers cannot appreciate the difference in inferior wood pellets until they have made a costly mistake.

June’s story does bring to mind another story in the media at the moment where black smoke rising from the chimney is a source of frustration but white smoke is welcomed, and it got us wondering…

…imagine the scene.  The College of Cardinals are in the Vatican to elect a new pope.  The papal conclave has attended mass in St. Peter’s Basilica and made the procession to the Sistine Chapel.  Voting takes place and the votes are counted by Cardinal Camerlengo and his assistants.  They proceed to the papal wood pellet boiler at the back of the Sistine Chapel and add a shovel full of wood pellets to the boiler.  However, these are not Balcas Brites wood pellets, but an inferior brand containing a higher content of sulphur, nitrogen and copper.  These wood pellets have a higher moisture content, lower mechanical durability and lower calorific value.  They have been carefully chosen to give the desired effect.  Within minutes a plum of grey black smoke is emitted from the chimney above the Sistine Chapel and the crowd waiting in anticipation let out a sigh.

Two days later, the entire process is repeated and the votes counted again.  However, after the votes are counted Cardinal Camerlengo calls for the Balcas Brites wood pellets and instructs for them to be fed into the wood boiler.  A plume of light clear white smoke is emitted from the chimney atop the Sistine Chapel, and the crowd outside rejoice as a new pope is elected.

Ok now back to reality.  Liverpool Wood Pellets aren’t vain enough to claim divine intervention or a Vatican approved product and we have full respect for the current process appointing the new Bishop of Rome.  However, this light hearted ‘what if’ story is worth remembering as using inferior wood pellets can cause a massive amount of damage to your wood pellet boiler. Only this week Tundra were called out to provide assistance for a boiler which had stopped twice because the augur filled up with so much dust that it couldn’t turn.  This stopped the fuel supply and the boiler stopped.  As a result the client needed to clear their silo out of 11½ tonnes of pellets and pay for a service engineer to clean the boiler out.  This was all caused by inferior quality pellets.

Please don’t take the risk of using poor quality pellets.  We’ve heard too many horror stories from customers who’ve subsequently come back to us.




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