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New biomass publication from CIBSE made freely available through app

CIBSE’s new publication AM15: Biomass heating is being made available as a no cost pdf download, and also as an optimised edition for both Android and Apple tablets through the CIBSE app, at

Biomass has become one of the key low carbon technologies expected to help the UK achieve its tough 2020 carbon reduction targets, but this emerging industry has been hampered by lack of specialist expertise and comprehensive technical guidance. A Carbon Trust report in 2012 stated that many large construction projects treat biomass systems like standard gas boiler installations, the end result being failure to achieve expected cost and carbon savings. According to the Carbon Trust, a survey in 2010 revealed that only 30% of installations were working well. Even more seriously, this lack of knowledge is compromising safety – with dangers ranging from explosions due to build up of flue gases, to carbon monoxide poisoning and farmer’s lung.

This brand new publication is designed to tackle these risks and poor performance by providing detailed guidance on the fundamental engineering principles and practices necessary to design, install and operate safe, effective and economic biomass systems.

3-D pipe layout for a 199 kW biomass boiler and three 120 kW LPG boilers 3-D pipe layout for a 199 kW biomass boiler and three 120 kW LPG boilers

AM15 clearly defines roles and responsibilities throughout the lifecycle of a biomass project, from feasibility studies and procurement through to operation and maintenance. It concentrates on biomass systems with biomass boiler outputs in the range of 50 kW to 5 MW burning woodchips or wood pellets.

The publication describes how to achieve the performance-in-use to be expected of a competent biomass heating system:

  • biomass fuel provides >90% of annual heat requirement
  • biomass boiler seasonal efficiency is >85%
  • biomass boiler (annual hours) utilisation factor >>15%
  • ash produced is less than 1% of fuel consumed
  • boiler operates for long periods without glass crowns or clinker at the fire bed.

Colin Ashford, Chair of the Publication Steering Committee, said:

"Biomass is an exciting and important emerging technology. This publication identifies the features and requirements of installations that are known to work well, based on practical experience combined with close attention to building physics. AM15 supports cost optimised specification and design, the use of efficient and controllable systems, and well-engineered flue arrangements. It should therefore provide the platform for a step-change in the biomass heating industry."

The publication was launched at the National Woodfuel Conference on 17 October 2014 with a presentation by lead author David Palmer of Campbell Palmer Partnership.