Meach Cove Farms
Our Project

       Fuel from the Field

   to the Flue


               Culta-packing the grass plots

                             following seeding

Fuel from the Field to the Flue:

Grass pellet heating equipment combustion optimization project

1.0 Project History


Meach Cove Farms (MCF) has experience with wood pellet boilers with the 2007 installation of a 500k BTU-rated SolaGen solid fuel boiler which supplies heat and hot water for a 12,000-SF building located on an adjacent property.  This boiler uses 35-40  tons per year of wood pellets.  The boiler is fed by a 28-ton silo that automatically feeds pellets into the burn chamber via an auger system.  Ash is deposited in a 30 gallon steel container which is emptied on a regular basis. The boiler and auger are controlled by an electronic program that monitors and adjusts the amount of  pellets put into the combustion chamber as well as determining whether the boiler should be run at high, medium  or low fire.


    SolaGen boiler system plans 12-18-2006            SolaGen Solid Fuel Boiler Info                Building plans 3-5-2007

The first 2 years after installation offered us many challenges to keep the boiler running as efficiently as possible.  Now in it's fourth year of operation, we have a more automatic and self-maintaining system (aside from the occasional brush down cleaning and emptying of the ash barrell).


In 2009 MCF became involved in an ongoing grass species trial in collaboration with Sid Bosworth of the University of Vermont Plant and Soil Science Department.  Sid and some of his plant science graduate students, planned and seeded grass plots of various species of grass.  The grass was harvested and baled and research is on-going.  Click here to view the latest published document about this grass fuel field research.


MCF participated in a grass fuel blend study in 2010 using the 500K BTU-rated solid fuel boiler on the adjacent property.  This study was a collaboration with the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund and Biomass Energy Resource Corporation (BERC) of Montpelier, VT.  That study yielded important data on how various pelletized grass species behaved when they were burned as a heating fuel. The study of this combustion testing was published in January, 2011. Click here to view this publication. (1.2M)


2.0 USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service - Conservation Innovation Grant


In September 2011, Meach Cove Farms was awarded a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) a Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) to select and install two different types of heating equipment in the 100,000-500,000 BTU output range and monitor the operation of this equipment and make improvements to them to optimize their combustion, emissions and ash handling for several species of pelletized grass.



3.0 Grant Summary

4.0 Grant Narrative

5.0 Progress to Date
7.0 Next Steps
  • Finalize selection for:

          -Boiler to test

          -Hot air furnace to test


  • Fit up boiler room test area


  • Install boiler and furnace


  • Combustion testing


  • Prep for Open House


  • Prepare deliverables


  • Determine method to get 2012 grass crop pelletized in Vermont


  • Continue long-term combustion testing with selected grass species