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Burning wood pellets better for the environment than typical fossil fuels - The Red and Black : Science & Health

Burning wood pellets better for the environment than typical fossil fuels

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    Some countries are more sustainable with the use of wood pellets instead of fossil fuels.

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Posted: Friday, March 21, 2014 8:00 am | Updated: 3:30 pm, Mon Jun 16, 2014.

European power plants are generating less greenhouse gases through the burning of wood pellets, which were studied by researchers at the University of Georgia, instead of fossil fuels.

Puneet Dwivedi, an assistant professor of sustainability at the UGA Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources has done research on these wood pellets.

Dwivedi said wood pellets are made by grinding, drying and compressing different types of timber products. They are made from the products that are left over after a tree has been processed by wood manufacturers.

“These timber products can include logging residue or wood residue such as sawdust,” Dwivedi said.

He also said that the electricity generated from wood pellets can replace electricity derived from fossil fuels such as natural gas and coal.

“A majority of wood pellets are being consumed in advanced European countries to meet domestic renewable energy production targets for the year,” Dwivedi said.

Many advanced European countries use wood pellets to generate power, but it has not yet been implemented in the United States, according to a UGA press release.

“The carbon intensity of electricity generated using wood pellets is at least 50 percent lower than the carbon intensity of electricity generated from fossil fuels at the grid level in the United Kingdom,” Dwivedi said. “As a result, it is more beneficial to burn wood pellets than coal or natural gas to generate a unit of electricity to combat global warming.”

Hendya Debese, a senior chemistry major from Austell, said any type of secondary fuel source would be good.

“A secondary fuel source would limit our reliance on our limited and precious supply of fossil fuels,” he said. “But shifting to wood pellets could just delay the problem we have with fossil fuels and create a bigger problem with deforestation.”

Carson Shadwell, a freshman journalism major from Atlanta, said she believes that global warming is an eminent threat.

“Greenhouse gases are a major contributor to the problem of global warming. I believe that human life and animal life would still be in danger to the effects of global warming even with the burning of wood pellets,” she said.

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