Wood pellets can be used to produce heat in a specially designed stove or boiler.
In addition some existing solid fuel (wood, coal or oil) boilers or stoves, can be converted to make use of wood pellets. The process can be as simple as installing a pellet basket in a wood stove or an open fire - see links for suppliers.
Pellets are mostly manufactured from products from sawmills and other wood processing industries. The materials used are ground wood chips and sawdust. No chemical additives are needed, the natural lignin of the wood itself serving as a binder.
Premium grade wood pellets (such as Stovies ®) are UK manufactured pellets that are produced from pure wood with no contaminants, such as plywood or chipboard glues.
Premium grade pellets are produced in the UK under a voluntary Code of Practice. Other countries have their own standards for the production of wood pellets, some of them compulsory. It is anticipated that there will be a European wide standard for the production of wood pellets soon.
Due to their low moisture content (about 10%), pellets have a high energy content, similar to high quality coal. Wood pellets can be used in automatic clean-burning heating appliances as they are manufactured to a consistent size (usually about 20 mm long with a diameter of 6 to 8mm for domestic heating), with low moisture content and high density. It also means that the boiler response time is fast and the technology is controllable without increasing the load on the environment.
This and the fact that they are clean and easy to handle make them particularly suitable for domestic use. Being compressed also means that they take up less room than other forms of wood fuel.