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Fuel Safety and Storage Program

BTEC Fuel Safety and Storage Program


Significant amounts of carbon monoxide (CO) have been found to be emitted from softwood pellets made in British Columbia and Europe when stored in large quantities. BTEC, through support from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), seeks to improve the understanding among industry and government of potential CO off-gassing from bulk pellet storage. BTEC’s research and outreach began in fall of 2012 and concluded in the fall of 2013.


This project will seek to achieve the following:

  1. Education and outreach to biomass thermal industry members on CO off-gassing potential of pellets in storage.
  2. Develop ventilation and other safety practices to be incorporated into industry guidelines for bulk pellet delivery and storage in commercial and residential applications.
  3. Present findings and recommendations to NYSERDA and other New York State government agency staff as well as other participants invited by NYSERDA including the Biomass Roadmap project team.

Relevant Reports

Resource: “Quality and Safety Assurance: Best Management Practice for the Storage of Loose Bulk Wood Pellets for Small and Medium Scale Central Heating Systems.” Available here

BTEC’s Technical and Regulatory Affairs subcommittee on bulk pellet storage has produced a document entitled “Quality and Safety Assurance: Best Management Practice for the Storage of Loose Bulk Wood Pellets for Small and Medium Scale Central Heating Systems.” Biomass industry stakeholders were invited to review the document and submit comments.

The full final report is available here.

Special thanks to Dutch Dresser of MESys and Scott Nichols of Tarm USA for their hard work and leadership of the subcommittee throughout 2014.

Past Reports

The Northeast Biomass Thermal Working Group (NEBTWG) produced in November 2012 a public technical document that outlines recommendations for bulk delivery of wood pellets for heating. NEBTWG is currently developing guidelines for bulk pellet storage. To learn more about the group’s activities, contact Scott Nichols of Tarm USA.

Note: These documents are presented solely as a set of technical “lessons learned,” intended to lead to a bulk pellet delivery standard after a significant period of industry review. Users accept all risks associated with implementing this document.


European countries are working to recommend ventilation guidelines and other safety practices for pellet storage through the Safe Pellet Project (which began in January 2011) and individual country efforts.  The country of Austria is currently revising its pellet storage guidelines to include ventilation methods. In the northeastern United States heating market, there has been little awareness of the CO off-gassing issue – perhaps in part because, until recently, there have been very few commercial or residential bulk storage facilities.

Pellets produced in the northeastern United States are typically composed of a blend of hardwood and softwood, or just softwood.  Hardwood species have lower amounts of fatty acids but it is not clearly known whether this would reduce CO off-gassing in a manner that would significantly change the health-risk from pellet CO off-gassing exposure.  Education and awareness of the CO off-gassing issue by pellet heating industry members and the development of recommended best practices for bulk pellet delivery, commercial pellet storage, residential pellet storage are urgently needed for the nascent pellet boiler heating market.  Recommended practices may include active or passive ventilation, depending on storage system size and type of construction or location, as well as CO monitoring.

BTEC held three webinars from late-2012 to mid-2013 that explored and discussed the current understanding of CO off-gassing, mitigation techniques, storage regulations and best practices, and ongoing research, among other topics. Each webinar is publicly accessible below with the applicable slide deck and live recording.

Session #3 on CO Off-Gassing: An update on pellet practices, safety, and research (7/23/13) Session #2 on CO Off-Gassing: Sharing Industry updates and relevant US Safety Standards (2/19/13) Session on #1 CO Off-Gassing: Sharing Current Science and Industry Practices (11/18/12)
  • Introduction and review of the BTEC project
  • Bulk storage survey results
  • Literature review and standards update
  • Preliminary CO off-gassing research update from Clarkson University
  • Examples of integrating CO safety into confined space/safety training
  • Current status of the BTEC-led literature review on pellet storage safety
  • Update on Bioenergy 2020 and the Safe Pellet Project
  • Overview of European efforts to promote safe pellet storage
  • Relevant US standards for combustible dust, fuel storage, and confined spaces


  • Outlining the scope of the BTEC project
  • Presenting solid science on off-gassing scenarios, what is known and not known
  • Describing current bulk wood pellet storage systems requirements and recommendations in Europe and North America
  • Offer upcoming project opportunities for wood pellet producers, appliance manufacturers, and installers of storage systems


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