All posts by NORA

29Feb/24

Newest Accredited Trainers

NORA is pleased to recognize the trainers who completed the second NORA Accredited Instructor Program (AIP). Jeff Rozga and Alan Wornham, RW Beckett Corp; Michael Warn, Carlin Combustion; and Charlie Burnham, MTEC (MEMA Technical Education Center) at NORA’s Research & Education center in Plainview, NY on February 1, under the tutelage of professional education trainer Brenda Huber.

The NORA Accredited Instructor program was developed to ensure service professionals trained in NORA schools, unions, and by companies in the liquid heating fuels industry have been provided with an education that positions them, their customers, and their companies for success.

According to AIP graduate, Michael Warn, “I worked in the field for 40 years but had no professional training on presenting and instead, taught based on my experiences. I felt like I was missing an unknown, integral piece to instructing. I felt that the NORA Accredited Instructor course was extremely beneficial, the three-day workshop is worthwhile and anyone with a passion for teaching should take advantage of it.” 

The service professionals in the liquid heating fuels industry are the first and most important contacts with customers. They are responsible not only for ensuring the heating system is operating at maximum efficiency, safety and reliability, but also with how customers perceive their liquid fuel heating, their adoption of renewable fuels and how comfortable they are with staying with their liquid fuel heating system. 

The program began with a prepared presentation by each of the participants. These were critiqued by the instructor as well as others in the class to establish a baseline. From there, the instructor took the participants through the teaching process to elevate their lessons from simply conveying facts to creating a meaningful total-learning experience for the students. The NORA Accredited Instructor program’s emphasis is to present the curriculum in such a way that students “own” the information and not just hear it. 

Bob O’Brien, NORA Director of Education, summed up the NORA’s AIP with, “NORA would like to thank the newly accredited instructors and their employers for recognizing the value in improving their classroom skills. Training the next generation of technicians is crucial to the future of the industry, particularly as the transition to renewable fuels accelerates.”

If you are a learning institution or trainer and are interested participating in NORA’s Accredited Instructor program, please contact NORA’s Director of Education, Bob O’Brien at robrien@noraweb.org or click the link below.


L to R: Michael Devine, NORA President; Charlie Burnham; Alan Wornham; Brenda Huber; Bob O’Brien; Jeff Rozga & Michael Warn

25Jan/24

Donnie Wahlberg Teams Up with Clean Fuels Alliance America to Drive Awareness for Bioheat® Fuel

JEFFERSON CITY, MO — Acclaimed actor and Boston native Donnie Wahlberg is joining forces with Clean Fuels Alliance America in a dynamic campaign to raise awareness about Bioheat® fuel, an eco-friendly and sustainable home heating solution derived from plants, including soybeans. Wahlberg, known for his deep ties to the Boston community, is excited to champion this initiative, reconnecting with his roots and promoting a cleaner future for the Northeast.

Bioheat® fuel is a renewable energy source that blends traditional heating oil with biodiesel, significantly reducing carbon emissions and environmental impact. Wahlberg’s partnership with Clean Fuels is driven by a shared commitment to promoting sustainable energy solutions and fostering environmental responsibility.

“We are honored and excited to have Donnie Wahlberg join forces with Clean Fuels in our mission to promote sustainable energy solutions,” said Clean Fuels CEO Donnell Rehagen. “Donnie’s involvement adds a powerful voice to our campaign, bringing attention to the positive impact of Bioheat® fuel on both a local and global scale. We believe that together, we can inspire positive change and encourage individuals to make the switch to cleaner, more sustainable heating options.”

“I have two sons. When they come to Boston to visit my family, and they see that big oil tank in the basement, they are like, ‘What is this?’ How great is it that I can now tell them, ‘You know what’s in there, vegetable oil,’” said Wahlberg. “It’s changing right under our noses we just have to realize that it’s right there. To know that my kids know that I am from an older generation, even though I don’t look it, but I care, and I’m doing my part to help protect their future and their children’s future and that means everything to me.”

Visit mybioheat.com to learn state-specific information about the benefits of Bioheat® fuel. The site also offers resources, educational materials and details on how individuals can make the switch to Bioheat® fuel for their heating needs. Visit ussoy.org to learn about how soy empowers sustainable solutions in food, feed, fuel and as alternatives to industrial ingredients formerly derived from fossil fuels.

About U.S. Soy
Representing the positive global human impact of soy grown in the United States, the U.S. Soy brand carries forward soy’s promise to transform global nutrition, provide climate-forward solutions, and support progress for people and their communities around the world. U.S. Soy is powered by the innovation of the industry; the unsurpassed quality, reliability, and sustainability of the soybeans grown by our farming families who invest through checkoff dollars; and the commitment of the organizations that raise awareness, build demand, develop new markets, and discover new uses for soy and soy products.

19Jan/24

B100 Heating is Here

B100 Heating is Here

Carbon reduction policy is now the norm for the Northeastern States. Renewable low-carbon and zero-carbon energy sources are being aggressively pursued. Among them, solar and wind seem to get the most publicity and both provide exceptionally clean energy. In the mix of clean-energy fuels are those liquid versions that work so well and effectively in liquid fuel fired heating—primarily biodiesel (ASTM 6751). Biodiesel has been used in liquid fuel heating for close to two decades, blended with standard heating oil, and for each drip of biodiesel blended, the carbon emissions drop. Since it is still a liquid fuel, the infrastructure, delivery, storage, and management remain the same, requiring little to no modification—freeing the industry to move forward. The transition to higher blends has been ongoing during this time, and along with it, the updating of codes and standards, like ASTM and UL, that ensure safe and effective operation.

The past year saw significant leaps in the heating systems available with the ability to be powered by the lowest carbon liquid heating fuel, B-100. Energy Kinetics, a boiler and integrated systems manufacturer from Lebanon, NJ, announced the 100% biodiesel blend listing for their complete line of residential and commercial heat and hot water boilers. This followed the necessary preliminary step of having B100 burners. During the past 12 months, both R. W. Beckett Corp. and Carlin Combustion Technology launched their respective lines of burners rated by UL to operate on 100% biodiesel, as well as blends of biodiesel and fuel oil. Years of collaboration with these industry partners, along with NORA’s R&D division based in Plainview, NY, enabled the development and deployment of these burners on Energy Kinetics B100 boilers.

    Biodiesel is a renewable fuel that reduces greenhouse gas emissions and helps the oilheat industry meet aggressive decarbonization goals. In addition to biodiesel and blends providing a significant evolution in the oilheat industry toward sustainability and a low-carbon future, energy savings can provide a remarkable force multiplier. The NORA Report on its Equipment Upgrade Incentive Project demonstrates 25% average savings when upgrading from older boilers to systems that incorporate Energy Kinetics’ well insulated, low mass, thermal purge design strategy. For forward-looking fuel dealers that offer biodiesel blends or even B100, combined with an upgrade of their customers’ boilers, can cut carbon emissions by almost 85%—all the while significantly reducing heat and hot water costs.

According to Energy Kinetics’ President, Roger Marran, “Several decades of research on renewable liquid heating fuels, the advancements made with biofuels, updated UL and other standards, and many years of R&D and field testing have opened a unique and powerful pathway for remarkably clean low carbon heat and hot water systems. Introducing our line of fully compatible B100 listed boilers means that clean and reliable operation is now available for all biodiesel blends from straight oilheat through 100% biodiesel. Combined with the efficiencies gained with our boilers, emissions and fuel use are reduced even further, achieving outstanding results with even lower fuel bills.”

Energy Kinetics boiler design strategy begins at the heart of the heating system with a focus on exceptional burner combustion. This is achieved with high performance ceramic and high-temperature alloy combustion chamber designs. The company then builds a specially formulated low mass steel spiral boiler around that heart of the system. This provides near perfect combustion for clean burning operation with oilheat, natural gas, and propane, and now seamlessly integrates with new burner technology with up to 100% biodiesel (B100).

Additional technology enabling industry leading energy savings includes the Energy Manager boiler control with thermal purge—a highly effective energy recovery feature, and integration with a unique plate heat exchanger heated hot water storage tank.

The combination results in proven 30-year lifecycle boiler designs that optimize comfort, savings, serviceability, and overall performance.

27Nov/23

NORA Looks at Indoor Air Quality

A Look into Indoor Air Quality

Indoor air quality has become a newsworthy topic as certain pollutions have been identified as health hazards by, among others, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It has been suggested that combustion powered home heating appliances are some of the sources of these indoor pollutants. As combustion powered heaters make up almost 75% of all heating appliances, NORA deemed an investigation was in order.

Of particular interest is particulate matter (PM), which is known to have both human health and negative environmental impact. NORA, at its Liquid Heating Fuels Research Center in Plainview, NY, took a deep look into PM in home living spaces to determine whether liquid fuel combustion devices negatively impacted indoor air quality.

Fortunately, a low-cost and effective method of measuring PM has recently entered the marketplace. Named PurpleAir sensors, these devices measure PM, PM2.5 and PM10 (the subscripts denote the particle sizes in micrometers [µm]) in micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3), which indicates the actual amount of particulates found in the air. Using dual laser-based particle counters, they can measure particles larger than 0.3 microns with counting efficiency, reported by the manufacturer to be 50% at 0.3 microns and 98% at > 0.5 microns.

The PurpleAir map shows installed units around the world and their PM measurements. Map.purpleair.com

Test Sites

The PurpleAir units can be installed to perform stand-alone, storing its readings offline, or connected to the internet to display the PM2.5 concentrations at its location on a worldwide map of an increasingly expanding network. For the NORA study, only offline measurements were used in houses with primarily a liquid-fuel-fired heating appliance. Eight homes—five in NY, two in MA and one in NJ—were chosen for this study. Seven of the eight were selected because they contained a liquid-fuel-fired heating system. The other was chosen to record data in the den area (kitchen and living room with a fireplace) during a time when the homeowner planned to cook and light a fire in a wood stove. A set of PurpleAir sensors was provided for each home. Typically, at least one indoor and one outdoor sensor was installed in each site. Four of the sites were fitted with a flue gas measurement sensor to indicate when the heating system was running.

Liquid fuel-fired boiler and furnace installations typically include barometric dampers, which are draft-operated “doors” that open to allow room air into the flue pipe to prevent high draft levels. High draft levels can change burner air fuel ratio and, in an extreme case, can destabilize a flame. Modern burners for liquid fuels have higher static pressure fans and are less influenced by these draft changes, but barometric dampers are commonly found in many installations. Barometric dampers may be a potential source of indoor air pollution as flue gas could spill into the room during startups. While this does not usually happen with modern equipment, the Purple Air sensors were placed as close as possible to the site barometric dampers to record possible spillage.

Correlation of PM Spikes
For some of the sites, the boiler room was found to have periodic spikes in PM2.5, but when paired with the “on” measurements of the flue gas sensor, it was shown that the heating system operation did not correlate to these spikes. One example is shown in Figure1, where you can see a plot of the PM2.5 concentrations (left y-axis) and the flue gas temperature (right y-axis) and the time (x-axis) over 24 hours. During this period, there was a major peak (close to 450 µg/m3 in PM2.5) concentration observed in the boiler room where the PurpleAir sensor was located approximately six feet from the boiler flue pipe. Upon consultation with the homeowner, it was found that he had performed soldering of metal pipes without ventilation in the boiler room. The flue gas temperature readings show the boiler was not operating nor did it operate during a period of approximately four hours before and approximately 12 hours after the soldering took place.

It was also found in the data from other sites that cooking and fireplace use had a major impact in indoor PM2.5 concentrations. Additionally, outdoor grilling also caused rises in indoor PM2.5 concentrations when doors and windows were left open to allow particulate matter to enter the home.

particulate matter and flue gas temp chart 1-gigapixel-low_res-scale-4_00x

Figure 1: Boiler room PM2.5 and flue gas temperature data in a 24-hour period where a high rise in PM is observed. Note: the spikes in PM do not happen when the boiler is in operation.

Correlation of PM Spikes
For some of the sites, the boiler room was found to have periodic spikes in PM2.5, but when paired with the “on” measurements of the flue gas sensor, it was shown that the heating system operation did not correlate to these spikes. One example is shown in Figure1, where you can see a plot of the PM2.5 concentrations (left y-axis) and the flue gas temperature (right y-axis) and the time (x-axis) over 24 hours. During this period, there was a major peak (close to 450 µg/m3 in PM2.5) concentration observed in the boiler room where the PurpleAir sensor was located approximately six feet from the boiler flue pipe. Upon consultation with the homeowner, it was found that he had performed soldering of metal pipes without ventilation in the boiler room. The flue gas temperature readings show the boiler was not operating nor did it operate during a period of approximately four hours before and approximately 12 hours after the soldering took place.

It was also found in the data from other sites that cooking and fireplace use had a major impact in indoor PM2.5 concentrations. Additionally, outdoor grilling also caused rises in indoor PM2.5 concentrations when doors and windows were left open to allow particulate matter to enter the home.

particulate matte site 2-gigapixel-low_res-scale-4_00x

Figure 2: PM2.5 data from all measurement locations during the entire data collection period for Site 2, Note the repeated spikes in PM from fireplace (green line) and kitchen (blue line) use compared to the near-zero readings from the boiler operation (brown line).

Conclusion
These results are important as they indicate combustion in properly operating liquid heating appliances does not impact indoor air quality. To improve the health and safety of home dwellers, other household activities, such as cooking, fireplaces and outdoor grilling should be carefully examined.

27Sep/23

NORA Releases 2024-2025 Budget for Comment

The proposed 2024 and 2024 biennial budget for the National Oilheat Research Alliance has been under development for several months. The NORA Finance Committee and the Executive Committee have reviewed the 2024 & 2025 budget and it is now being released for public comment.

At the conclusion of the public comment period, the budget will be forwarded to the Department of Energy.

Anyone interested in commenting on this should forward comments, by September 1, 2021, to mdevine@noraweb.org.

. For more information about NORA and its programs or services, call 703-340-1660 or visit the web site, NORAwe

Download proposed budget.

13Dec/22

UL Liquid Fuel Burner Safety Standard Amended to Include Biodiesel Blends Up To B100

On November 14, 2022 an update to the standard UL296 was published by Underwriters Laboratories (UL) which expands its scope to include liquid-fuel-fired burners intended for use with biodiesel blends of 20% to 100% (B20-B100) with heating oil. UL296 is the standard developed by Underwriters Laboratories for safety testing of liquid-fuel-fired burners.

Prior to this update, the UL standard included procedures for evaluation of burners for use with biodiesel blends up to B20. The updated standard includes the procedure and requirements for burners up to B20, including endurance of elastomers and seals in extended exposure to the fuels. Additionally, the updated standard has added a unique new test in which a burner is set-up for use with B100 as per manufacturer specifications. The fuel is then switched to heating oil without biodiesel included (B0), and no burner settings are modified. The burner still needs to operate cleanly and safely after this fuel change.

This new standard has been eagerly awaited by the liquid fuel heating industry as it allows for the development and market introduction of heating appliances rated to run on 100% low-carbon biodiesel, drastically reducing the carbon emissions of home heating systems.

A number of industry entities have been working towards this update of UL296, including NORA, Clean Fuels Alliance, Carlin Combustion Technologies and R.W. Beckett Corporation.

Michael Devine, NORA’s president said, “This standard update is most welcome as it accelerates the liquid fuel industry’s conversion to low-carbon home heating. The ever-increasing blends of biodiesel in our fuel eliminates more and more carbon, making liquid fuel heating an essential component in addressing climate change. Amending UL 296 allows liquid fuel appliance manufactures to provide equipment that aligns with the public policy requirements for carbon reduction. NORA has been able to demonstrate that a home heated with 100% biodiesel using solar panels to produce its electricity can become a Net-Zero home quickly and at an economically viable cost.”

19Nov/21

NORA Releases Report on Equipment Upgrade Incentive Project

The National Oilheat Research Alliance (NORA) has released a recently completed report on its Equipment Upgrade Incentive Project. The report examines the impact of rebates on efficiency, reductions in gallons of fuel used, savings to consumers and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. These rebate incentive programs have been used in many states for several years. 

At the time the report’s release, NORA rebates had been used to support the installation of 6,412 liquid fuel fired boilers. This is approximately 1/10 of 1% of the liquid fuel powered heating equipment in the field. The dramatic gains in efficiency over the units replaced yielded big savings to the customers and to society.

On average, fuel consumption was reduced by 170 gallons per year per home. At $3.20 per gallon of fuel, this means a savings of $544 per year. If a $500 rebate encouraged early replacement by 1 year, the return on investment would be 8.8%. A boiler has a typical useful life of 25 years; they often last much longer. Total savings over the life of a boiler would be $13,600 in current dollars.

The societal savings are also dramatic. For these 6,412 boilers that were replaced, over one million gallons of fuel will not be used for the next 25 years. This represents a total of 27,251,000 gallons of fuel not burned over the life of the boiler. This translates into $87 million dollars saved; money that can be spent in the local economies.

Additionally, the replacement boilers represent nearly 396,000 tons of CO2e that will not be put into the atmosphere.

The study used in-field measurements of fuel consumption (before and after equipment changes).
The researchers used actual delivery data of fuel to determine fuel use in a particular home prior to the equipment change and then evaluated consumption after the installation. The study did not rely on equipment ratings or other manufacturer evaluations of equipment. It captured in-use and actual savings to a consumer.

According to Dr. Thomas Butcher, NORA’s Technical Director and the study’s lead author, “The report provides powerful evidence of the benefits of improved equipment installed in homes and also the types of equipment that will yield the most savings for consumers.”

NORA will be developing communication pieces for service personnel and consumers so they can maximize the efficiency of their home. This information will also be invaluable to manufacturers as they develop equipment that reduces consumption in real world applications.

27Jul/21

NORA Releases 2022-2023 Budget for Comment

The proposed 2022 and 2023 biennial budget for the National Oilheat Research Alliance has been under development for several months. The NORA Finance Committee and the Executive Committee have reviewed the 2022 & 2023 budget and it is now being released for public comment.

At the conclusion of the public comment period, the budget will be forwarded to the Department of Energy.

Anyone interested in commenting on this should forward comments, by September 1, 2021, to JHuber@NORAweb.org.

The 2022 and 2023 budget incorporates the 2014 and 2018 changes in the NORA statute emphasizing research and development and adds an energy efficiency component. Additionally, the budget continues to emphasize the close working relationships with the state associations. For more information about NORA and its programs or services, call 703-340-1660 or visit the web site, NORAweb.org.

03Jun/21

“Future of Liquid Heating Fuels” conference completed

The National Oilheat Research Alliance (NORA) and EUROFUEL hosted their second annual conference titled Low-Carbon Liquid Heating Fuels: Putting the Pieces Together. This follows last year’s widely attended Low-Carbon Liquid Heating Fuels in a Carbon Constrained World
The 2021 conference was hosted on two consecutive Thursdays, May 20 & 27, with sessions approximately two hours in length.
Each day focused on a general topic:
Thursday, May 20: Public Policy & Greenhouse Gas Reductions
Thursday, May 27: Technology Advancements—Are They Positioning Us for a Future?

26Feb/21

European/North American Conference on the Future of Liquid Heating Fuels: “Putting the Pieces Together”

As the liquid heating fuels industry prepares for its low-carbon future, the National Oilheat Research Alliance (NORA) and the Eurofuel Association will host its second annual conference titled, Low-Carbon Liquid Heating Fuels: Putting the Pieces Together on May 20 & 27, 2021. This follows last year’s widely attended Low-Carbon Liquid Heating Fuels in a Carbon Constrained World conference. The 2021 event, presented online, will feature speakers and topics with the goal of putting the pieces in place to answer the questions on transitioning to low-carbon fuels that were identified during the 2020 event.

Moritz Bellingen, Chairman of Eurofuel stated, “The magnitude of the challenges posed by the energy transition requires a variety of solutions. We cannot afford to exclude any solutions that have the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Low-carbon heating liquid fuels are part of the solution. Innovation is fostering the creation of new low-carbon liquid solutions that strike the right balance between emission reduction and consumer requirements.”

John Huber, NORA’s president, said, “The liquid fuel heating industries in North America and Europe both face severe pressures to adapt to low-carbon fuels. By working together to advance appliance technology and fuels, we can create and implement successful strategies that will guarantee our role in the energy sector for generations.”
The 2021 conference will be hosted on two consecutive Thursdays, May 20 & 27, with sessions approximately two hours in length. Each day will begin at 9am U.S. Eastern Daylight Savings Time and 3pm in Europe (UTC+1).

The first day of the Conference, May 20: Public Policy & Greenhouse Gas Reductions will review carbon reduction public policy actions in some of the states in the U.S. and several countries of Europe as well as what effect Brexit will have on policy in the UK. Various mechanisms for encouraging low-carbon fuel use will be addressed including carbon taxes, low-carbon fuel standards & mandates as well the push towards electrification (heat pumps). Additionally, the program will address how other renewable fuel users (aviation, trucking, off-road) intersect with the heating industry and are there any technical or legal obstacles to low-carbon liquid fuel use?

The second day, May 27: Technology Advancements—Are They Positioning Us for a Future? will focus on the technologies of the fuels themselves and which markets are they best able to serve, the state of the heating equipment available and their ability to accommodate low carbon fuels and meet the efficiency requirements needed.

We encourage everyone to mark their calendars for this event.