Delta High School installs wood chip biomass boiler 

By Reba Lean of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: Workers are finishing construction on a wood chip biomass boiler at the Delta High School. The boiler will provide heat for the 77,000-square-foot high school building and possibly other buildings around the school in the future.

The 5 million Btu boiler is the second in the state to be installed for a school. Tok had the first, and its boiler powers its school’s electricity in addition to heating.

Kent Scifres, project manager in Delta, believes only good will come from Delta’s new system.

“For this area, this project makes sense because we have lots of trees,” he said.

The boiler, made by Messersmith Manufacturing out of Michigan, will feed on wood chips from slab wood provided by Dry Creek’s Lumber and Milling Association. Trailers will dump tons of chips into a storage area inside the building, where augers will then feed the chips onto a conveyor belt into the boiler itself. Large particles are collected at the bottom of a 65-foot stack, where exhaust travels out the top invisibly.

“You won’t see any smoke go out it’s so clean burning,” Scifres said.

The boiler heats water heaters inside the building, which pipe into an existing system inside the school. The former fuel system won’t kick on unless the new boiler goes offline for some reason.

“It just ties into the existing system and circulates all around.”

Money for the boiler building’s construction came from a $2 million grant from Alaska Energy Authority and $800,000 from the state.

The move to biomass heat is a cost-cutting one for the school district.

The high school spends about 102,000 gallons of heating oil per year, which is priced at around $4 per gallon. It will cost $60 per ton of wood chips, and the school plans to use about 2,000 tons per year. Read more

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