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The fireplace pollutes. Advice for responsible combustion

24 dicembre 2020

The fireplace pollutes. Advice for responsible combustion

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Domestic heating wood burning is a widespread cultural tradition in the Alps, and not only that, but what impact does it have? What are the effective tools to increase citizens’ awareness on such traditional issues? What are the technological innovations currently on the market to promote the sustainable use of wood and pellets? What are the useful mechanisms for a real energy transition in the Alpine region and what are the regulatory levers to implement a policy to support the production of energy from clean wood and pellets at local level?

These and other questions marked the launch of BBCLEAN, the project co-funded by the Interreg Alpine Space Programme and a network of eight European Partners from the Alpine states Austria, France, Germany, Italy and Slovenia, led by Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore and in particular by the Department of Mathematics and Physics of our campus of Brescia in order to acquire expertise in the field of biomass burning, develop an innovative and shared policy in the Alpine space, promote the sustainable local wood market and a better knowledge of the health effects of this ancient domestic fuel. While the partners have been involved for over 30 months in the activities of the project that will end in April 2021, the results achieved to date will be illustrated on Thursday, the 15th of October at the international conference “The wood and pellet the challenge toward environmental sustainability” promoted by the Italian Partners (ARPA Valle d’Aosta and Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore) at the Arpa Valle d’Aosta headquarters.

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Bianca Martinelli

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The conference will focus on how awareness campaigns were conducted on the use of woody biomass as a domestic fuel, on the knowledge of wood, pellets, wood chips to burn, starting from the assumption that it is important to know how to choose the right material, verifying its quality, local sellers and producers, recognized certifications of the materials and their origin.

«Wood is coming back into the limelight as an interesting fuel to limit carbon emissions and thus combat climate change. This happens not so much because burning wood does not produce carbon dioxide, but because the amount released by combustion is equivalent to the amount absorbed by the vegetation through photosynthesis during the life cycle of plants. For this reason, wood can be considered a carbon neutral fuel» - said professor Giacomo Gerosa, scientific coordinator of the project.

«Wood smoke emits up to 5,000 times more PM into the atmosphere than burning methane to produce the same amount of heat, especially using poorly efficient technologies such as the fireplace,” continues Gerosa. “Things improve if stoves with more efficient combustion systems are used. The BBCLEAN project was in fact created to identify those solutions that allow the best use of wood for domestic heating facilities production in the Alpine area, while minimising the impact on the environment and human health», said professor Gerosa.

Among the various solutions that will be presented during the conference, there will also be a mobile web app to guide the citizens of Storo (TN) and Vezza d’Oglio (BS) - the two case studies of the project - towards conscious combustion, suggesting the best hours to light the stove hour by hour and up to three days, to prevent PM levels from exceeding the critical threshold established by the regulations for the protection of air quality.


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