Please send pellets

The last time I was in Glasgow, my combi boiler declined my polite requests to fire up and vent forth hot water, radiators for the supply of, leaving me in a situation of considerable chill. Now, in Dublin, my landlord/housemate and I find ourselves incapable of securing a supply of small wooden pellets.

Said pellets are something of a technological marvel, being formed from compressed waste sawdust, bagged, and (hypothetically) delivered to the likes of us. Thenceforth, they are poured liberally into a hopper which in turn feeds – via a terribly exciting Archimidean-screw arrangement – a surprisingly efficient burner/boiler system. Too liberally, it transpires, for we’ve run out of bags of pellets. Since the technology is (a.) relatively new, and (b.) Austrian, we’ve found ourselves unable to source additional supplies. For a week.

Upshot: it’s fecking cold in the house. We’re not quite at ambient temperature, but thanks to all the not-quite-fixed-yet draughts it’s surprisingly close. On Monday I came home and immediately stuck my hand in the fridge, just to see whether there was any point leaving it switched on. It was hard to tell.

The existential joy of the pellet boiler system is that, since the pellets are formed from waste, burning them is considered carbon-neutral. Hurrah. However, since we can’t track down any pellets to burn, we’re left to celebrate to the sound of one hand clapping.



  1. Fairly straightforward answer to this one Sanderson. Get a cheap flight out to, say, Brazil and harvest your own. I believe they have an abundance of suitable timber.
    Or alternatively you could try peat.

  2. Can’t you run some logs through a wood chipper, and use that to feed the burner?

  3. For the uninitiated, ‘Daniel’ works for the Environment Agency. Oh, great.
    I’m not sure what happens if you feed this boiler thing fuels other than the recommended compressed-sawdust pellets. It may melt, for all I know. Though we did seriously consider trying macaroni, since we have a large bag that’s horribly out of date and they’re about the right size to feed through into the crucible.

  4. Work is a very broad term covering a variety of activities.
    Before being able to comment on the alternative fuels can we, the great unwashed, be given more details. Are we talking about a Rika model with the microprocessor temperature-guided boiler adjustments and cellular phone remote activation? Perhaps we have an slight excess of technology over function here.
    The prospect of using any pellet which does not have the same attrition characteristics fills me with fear and dread, but more importantly the pelleter hopper with fines It will probably make a burnt sticky mess in the combustion chamber.
    From being in a similar situation without heating I strongly commend taking up residence in a local hostelry until the pellets arrive.

  5. The wood? You can’t get the wood, you know. Perhaps Henry Crun or Moriarty has some 😉

  6. By coincidence our cats use small compressed wooden pellets for a rather different purpose. Whether they would be suitable for your needs is unclear, however we can confirm that they do burn (all be it reluctantly) whats more 1 bag will last a cat for 70 days, how warm the cat wants to be is unclear.
    Here’s hoping you no longer need a solution to this one…

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