Local farmer develops biofuel heater
THORNVILLE – The concept for an experimental biofuelheating device is fairly simple, but rarely is one this big. In September, former Perry County Commissioner Thad Cooperrider unveiled a large biofuel-burning heater designed to keep several buildings, a greenhouse, and a farmhouse warm on his Ohio 204 property.
“We waste a lot of energy in this country,” he said to a small crowd of people who were invited to have a look at the new device. The crowd included all three of the current Perry County commissioners.
The device uses a large furnace which burns straw, corn stalks, grain, or wood, to heat more than 6,000 gallons of water to roughly 200 degrees. The water is stored in a massive tank a story off the ground directly above the furnace. The hot water then flows beneath the floors of Cooperrider’s farm buildings through a network of underground tubes. The water’s radiant heat warms the structures from below. “It makes sense,” said Cooperrider. He said he thought of the device during a trip to the Ukraine, where hot water from a coal-burning power plant was distributed through a nearby town to warm homes and businesses instead of being released directly into a river from the power plant.
Cooperrider funded nearly half of the $150,000 project through a matching US Department of Agriculture Conservation Innovation Grant. The grant, or CIG, is a voluntary program intended to promote the development and adoption of innovative conservation techniques relating to agricultural production through the use of biofuels and alternative energy. He applied for the grant in August 2007. He said most CIGs are awarded to universities and research facilities for data collection. Cooperrider guessed that he received the grant because his idea is a practical application.
Were his device to go on the market, Cooperrider assumes it would be sold on a much smaller scale than his massive prototype. The entire device is homemade, except for the oven, which he found in Florida. He said all the supplies and labor came from within five or six miles of his farm. “There’s plenty of talent in Perry County,” said Cooperrider