Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Burning Corn to Heat Your Home

Burning shelled corn to heat your home is a lower-cost alternative to fuels such as natural gas, propane, coal, and wood. Corn burns cleaner than those fuels, and does not release dangerous chemicals into the air. Corn-burning stoves are easy to use and maintain.

Burning corn is good for the planet. Corn absorbs carbon dioxide as it grows, and much of that remains in the stalks and roots. These are usually composted back into the soil. As it grows, corn releases oxygen and helps to rid the air of pollutants. Unlike oil and coal, corn is a renewable resource. A new crop is produced each year.

Still, there are those who do not support the idea of using corn for fuel. The effects of fertilizers and the operation of machinery in the growing, harvesting, processing, and transportation of corn may result in some damage to the environment. Hopefully, with enlightened leadership, these issues will be resolved in the not-to-distant future.

According to studies at Cornell University and the University of California-Berkley, turning corn into fuel uses much more energy than the resulting ethanol or biodiesel generates.
However, corn stoves are designed to run on shelled corn. No refinery is required.

Royal Dutch Shell considers using food crops to make biofuels "morally inappropriate", as long as there are people in the world who are starving.
I guess that's what one might expect an OIL COMPANY executive to say. I've done a little research and found that while malnutrition is a real problem in some parts of the world, it is not due to an inability to grow food crops, but rather a problem with harvesting and storing them. Using corn for fuel does not interfere with food supplies anywhere in the world. The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) says; "American farmers have continued to easily meet all demands for US corn from foreign countries".

Burning corn kernels for home heating bypasses the negative effects of ethanol conversion, but does not address the issue of the need for an environmentally friendly way to generate electricity. Wind, hydro, and photovoltaic systems are a few of the most appropriate solutions for that task. The best current technology for heating water is direct heat from the sun. As the price of oil continues to rise, and with increasing pressure to limit carbon emissions, it will be interesting to see if the automobile industry is able to produce a product that the public will accept.

Do a Google search for corn stoves and visit manufacturers and distributors websites for more information. You'll also find stoves that burn pellets made from wood byproducts. I decided to go with a corn-burner becaus they burn cleaner and corn is less expensive than wood pellets. I'm even growing a small crop of field corn this year to burn in my stove. Now that's energy independence! I don't have enough land to grow a crop big enough to supply me with corn for the entire heating season, but at least I'm doing something to reduce carbon emissions and my dependence upon petroleum-based products for heating.

Here's a great website concerning the use of corn for heat:

Solar John


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