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Clarkson forms partnership to promote improved heating technology

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POTSDAM - It makes good sense for two organizations that promote good science to work together, so Clarkson University’s Institute for a Sustainable Environment (ISE) has joined the Biomass Thermal Energy Council to promote improved technology for heating.

For many people who do not have access to piped gas, wood combustion represents a cost-effect approach to heat their homes or buildings. However, current wood appliances waste energy and generate air pollution.

“Over the past few years, much research - largely with NYSERDA support - has been directed toward getting more efficient wood burners in place,” says Phillip K. Hopke, Clarkson’s Bayard D. Clarkson Distinguished Professor, director of Clarkson’s Institute for a Sustainable Environment and director of Clarkson’s Center for Air Resources Engineering & Science. “Some trade associations are pushing hard for the status quo, so it’s good sense for ISE to collaborate with an organization that’s pushing for better technology.”

The Clarkson Institute for a Sustainable Environment is home to the University’s environmental activities associated with research, interdisciplinary graduate and undergraduate degree programs, and its outreach programs. ISE’s mission is to facilitate the development, promotion and operation of environmental activities within the University and among its partners.

The Biomass Thermal Energy Council, or BTEC, is a non-profit association of biomass fuel producers, appliance manufacturers and distributors, supply chain companies and non-profit organizations that view biomass thermal energy as a renewable, responsible, clean and energy-efficient pathway to meeting America’s energy needs.

BTEC engages in research, education, and public advocacy for the fast growing biomass thermal energy industry. Council members span most states and include landowners, biomass fuel producers, appliance manufacturers, distributors, and many others in the biomass thermal community. For more information, see http://www.biomassthermal.org .

While other countries are ahead of the United States in terms of implementing biomass technology, there is good news for New York. Companies in Schenectady and Troy manufacture highly efficient, low-emission wood boilers, and the state is home to former pulp and paper industry forests that are available for harvesting by wood pellet manufacturers.

“The North Country Regional Economic Development Council ranks bioenergy high on its list of goals,” Hopke says. “There’s a real economic opportunity for harvesting wood, particularly here in the North Country.”

In November, Hopke was a judge for the Alliance for Green Heat’s annual Wood Stove Decathlon in Washington, D.C. The winner was a small company from New Hampshire.

“The EPA is coming up with new regulations and this company shows that even a small outfit can create a stove that’s both affordable and efficient for homeowners,” he says.

For more information about Clarkson and the Institute for a Sustainable Environment, go to http://www.clarkson.edu/ise.

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