NORA Launches the New OilheatAmerica.com

The National Oilheat Research Alliance (NORA)  launched a completely new version of  OilheatAmerica.com, its consumer information website, on Tuesday, January 20, 2015.
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New OIlheatAmerica.com

NORA, working with Primedia, identified the core attributes of Oilheat – Safe, Renewable, Efficient, Clean, Domestic, Abundant and Independent. New content was then created to explain each attribute and how it benefits the consumer. Designed and developed for today’s Internet user, the new site features a clean design, shorter copy, and a responsive design for ease and accessibility from mobile devices, smartphones and tablets as well as desktop and laptop computers. The wealth of valuable Oilheat information from the previous incarnation of OilheatAmerica was maintained in the expansive Knowledge Base section, including the FAQs and Equipment sections.

John Huber, NORA president, said, “We are so pleased with the updated information and design of the new OilheatAmerica.  By focusing on the core attributes of Oilheat and the growing audience on mobile devices, today’s launch of OilheatAmerica provides additional access to consumers and direct support to the men and women who are the Oilheat industry.”

New to the site are expanded information on Bioheat® Fuel and state mandates for ULSHO and biofuels, rotating “quick facts,” and sections developed specifically for Commercial and Industrial Users, Home Buyers and Sellers, Real Estate Professionals, Builders and HVAC Professionals, and Home Inspectors.

NORA was authorized by Congress in 2000 to provide funding that would allow the Oilheating industry to provide more efficient and more reliable heat and hot water to the American consumer. The four key arms of NORA are Consumer Education, Professional Education, improving Energy Efficiency and Safety, and Research.


Project Opportunity Notice Deemed a Success

[ezcol_1half]The National Oilheat Research issued its first Project Opportunity Notice (PON) since its reauthorization on October 31, 2014 with a deadline for submissions of December 12, 2014. NORA’s President, John Huber, categorized the PON a success as the number and quality of proposals met or exceeded expectations.

The PON (No. 2014-001) sought proposals to support the development, demonstration and commercialization of Oilheat technologies and made available two million dollars in funding.

At the deadline close, twelve proposals had been received totaling more than 4.5 million dollars for research on a cost shared basis with NORA. Under the proposals, NORA would contribute significant  funding for the projects.

“It is exciting that this many companies, including manufacturers, consultants and laboratories, are so interested in adding to the already high-quality products and services offered to the American consumer by the Oilheating industry,” said Huber. [/ezcol_1half] [ezcol_1half_end] “The quality of the concerns making the proposals is quite high and the topics are right on target with NORA’s long term plans.”

Although none of the proposals have gone through the entire process and been formally accepted, some of the topics proposed include: improving condensing appliances, low firing and modulating burners, delivery efficiency improvements and biodiesel/Bioheat® improvements.

All of the proposals are now under review by NORA’s technical experts. The next step is for NORA’s technical experts to make recommendations to the NORA technical committee for final approval.

NORA will continue to release PONs in the months and years ahead. They will be distributed to the industry through press releases and  posted here on the NORAweb.org site.[/ezcol_1half_end]


ASTM Vote Opens Door for Biodiesel Innovation in Heating Oil

When finalized, landmark move for 20 percent biodiesel in heating oil expected to accelerate America’s transformation to Bioheat®

[ezcol_1half]JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – ASTM International, an organization which sets industry consensus standards for fuels and lubricants, has voted approve performance specifications for blends of 6 to 20 percent biodiesel with traditional heating oil.

The move is a significant leap forward in the industry effort to boost the percentage of cleaner burning biodiesel that homeowners and building managers use in oilheat equipment common to the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic.

The updated ASTM D396 Standard Specification for Fuel Oils, containing the new grade for blends of 6 to 20 percent biodiesel, will be finalized and published by ASTM for public use after the usual ASTM review and editing process. It is expected by February 2015.

The mixture of biodiesel and heating oil is marketed as Bioheat® fuel, a registered trademark.

“The fuel oil industry is reinventing itself as a 21st century fuel by moving to higher blends of low carbon biodiesel and near-zero sulfur levels across the board,” said John Huber, president of the National Oilheat Research Alliance.

The Bioheat renaissance gives oilheat dealers, mostly small, family-owned businesses, the ability to provide their customers with a desirable new product, according to Huber.

“Bioheat gives consumers the choice to use a clean, domestically produced fuel without having to invest in an expensive natural gas system,” said Paul Nazzaro, who leads the National Biodiesel Board’s Bioheat outreach program. “Setting these performance specs for increased biodiesel levels is hugely significant, because it opens the door for innovation in the heating oil industry and will allow more consumers to enjoy the full benefits of this fuel in their homes and businesses.”


[ezcol_1half_end]Nazzaro added that environmentally speaking, a 20 percent blend of biodiesel puts Bioheat on par with natural gas, the biggest competitor to oilheat, while higher biodiesel levels up to 100 percent biodiesel could reduce the carbon footprint of Bioheat up to 80 percent compared to traditional fuel oil.

The passage of 5 percent biodiesel into the No. 1 and No. 2 grades of ASTM D396 occurred in 2008. During the last six years, the Bioheat Technical Steering Committee, comprised of industry technical experts and led by NORA and NBB, developed a tremendous amount of data that formed the basis for the ballot. The vote to pass the ballot came last week at the semi-annual meeting of the ASTM Committee D02 on Petroleum Products.

“The technical data with this ballot for the new B6-B20 grade verified what we have known for years-B20 made with high quality biodiesel works well,” said Seth Obetz, president of Pennsylvania-based Bioheat distributor Worley and Obetz. “We have been marketing high quality B20 for 14 years and our customers see fewer problems with B20 than with conventional heating oil.”

Wholesale fuel provider Amerigreen reported at the ASTM meeting that it has more than 100,000 B20 customers. The company said that number is growing because Bioheat customers see less maintenance than with conventional fuel oil.

The NBB and NORA have invested millions of dollars in Bioheat research, outreach and education through funding provided by oilheat dealers, biodiesel producers and the soybean checkoff program.

Made from a diverse mix of sustainable resources, biodiesel is an Advanced Biofuel as designated by the Environmental Protection Agency.

For more, visit Bioheatonline.com and Biodiesel.org


About ASTM International
ASTM International, formerly known as the American Society for Testing and Materials, is a globally recognized leader in the development and delivery of international voluntary consensus standards. Today, some 12,000 ASTM standards are used around the world to improve product quality, enhance safety, facilitate market access and trade, and build consumer confidence. Working in an open and transparent process and using ASTM’s a dvanced electronic infrastructure, ASTM members deliver the test methods, specifications, guides and practices that support industries and governments worldwide. Learn more at ASTM.org.


NORA President Huber Chats with ICM

[ezcol_1half]In February, 2014, the National Oilheat Research Alliance (NORA) was re-authorized by Congress to operate through February 2019. NORA’s mission is and was to improve the American consumer’s experience with oil-fired heating and hot water. NORA’s activities fall under four general categories: [/ezcol_1half]

[ezcol_1half_end]Research & Demonstration, Industry Education, Energy Efficiency and Consumer Education. John Huber, NORA President, sat down with Indoor Comfort Marketing’s Greg Dool to discuss NORA’s direction for the next five years.[/ezcol_1half_end]

[ezcol_1half]GD: Now that NORA is back up and running, what principal areas of research do you plan to focus on?
JH: The biggest function of our research going forward will be on the fuels—specifically Bioheat® (biodiesel blended with heating oil and perhaps additional sources in the future)—and then also looking at how to make sure the fuel that we use functions properly in the equipment.

Continue reading


Many Northeastern states require lower-sulfur heating oil while some embrace biodiesel blends

[ezcol_1half]Many states in the Northeast have instituted requirements to move heating oil to a low-sulfur blend and some have included biodiesel blends in their mandates.

Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont all have phase-in periods that require a dramatic reduction in the amount of sulfur present in heating oil.

Other than Maryland and Pennsylvania, both of which have mandated a reduction to 500 PPM sulfur, each of the above states will require no more than 15 PPM. Each state has set its own time table for the transition, the latest date is July 2018.

The cities of New York and Philadelphia have set their own standards with more aggressive transitions.

The District of Columbia, not yet having low-sulfur requirement, has proposed 15 PPM sulfur by July 1, 2018.

Reducing the amount of sulfur in heating oil results in a reduction of emissions and[/ezcol_1half][ezcol_1half_end]fewer deposits on heat exchangers, providing a cleaner burn and better heating system efficiency.

Additionally, some of the states and New York City have either instituted a biodiesel blend requirement or have proposals in place. The inclusion of biodeisel (a renewable fuel made from agricultural products) in blends up to 5% makes what it known as Bioheat®. Blending amounts above 5% is also becoming widespread and the oilheating industry is currently working to have the higher blends included in ASTM’s specification for heatiing oil or in a new specification for Bioheat®.

The introduction of renewable biodiesel in heating oil offers American consumers a fuel with a renewable component that is actually lowers the carbon impact of heating with oil while bolstering U.S. farming and production.

Click here to view detailed chart of the states positions.

Thank you to Jim Collura, New England Fuel Institute, for assembling this information.[/ezcol_1half_end]


NORA Training Videos on YouTube

The complete library of NORA service technician training videos are available on the National Oilheat Research Alliance channel on YouTube.

Seventeen videos, each one covering a specific topic of interest to oilheat service technicians and HVAC contractors, can be viewed anywhere/anytime on any internet connected device through the popular video sharing website YouTube.

Video topics include

[ezcol_1half]Action Response to a No Heat Call
Tune Up
Fuel Delivery 
Heating Oil & Our Environment
Primary Controls Part 1: Thermo-Mechanical
Primary Controls Part 2: Cad Cell Relays
Primary Controls: Microprocessor and Riello 
Steel Above-Ground Tank Installations
Polyethylene/Steel Above-Ground Tank Installation[/ezcol_1half]

[ezcol_1half_end]Tank Inspection Procedures
Residential Underground Storage Static Tank Process
Above-Ground Fiberglass-Reinforced Plastic Tanks
Combustion Efficiency Testing
FSA Calculator
Customer Service
Outdoor Reset
Carbon Monoxide and How to Respond to an Alarm[/ezcol_1half_end]

NORA silver and gold certified technicians can earn CUEs by viewing the videos  and taking the online exam. Learn more here. The video library can also be found at https://noraweb.org/videos/


NORA research shows up to 20% biodiesel OK for home heating

[ezcol_1half]Research conducted by the National Oilheat Research Alliance (NORA) blending up to 20% biodiesel (D6751), with both standard and low sulfur heating oil, showed no issues attributable to the use of biodiesel in heating equipment. This research includes both lab testing and field results.

Field experience with Bioheat® fuel (blended heating oil and biodiesel) has been overwhelmingly positive. A recent service organization survey conducted by NORA and Brookhaven National Laboratory observed that some 35,000 buildings are currently using Bioheat® containing more than 5% biodiesel without incident.

It is important to note that biodiesel is a specific product that meets American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) D6751 specifications and has well-established product characteristics designed to ensure that it can be safely and efficiently blended into heating oil and diesel. Biodiesel meets detailed fuel property specifications within ASTM D6751. ASTM consists of experts from petroleum companies, equipment manufacturers and research organizations. In-spec biodiesel has undergone rigorous material compatibility, combustion, lubricity, field testing, and stability studies as part of the long ASTM approval process. Continue reading


Thermo Products, releases 95% efficient Oil Furnace

NORA R&D funding contributes to the new ultra-high efficiency appliance.


Thermo Products has developed a 95% AFUE oil condensing furnace that is Energy Star qualified and can match the AFUE ratings of gas furnaces.

Thermo Products Research and Development Department, headed by Chief Engineer, Everett James, have designed and developed this new ultra-high efficient oil furnace with funding assistance from the National Oilheat Research Alliance (NORA). “With efficiencies equal to many gas furnaces, we are excited to offer this energy efficient product to our customers”, according to Linda Keene, Marketing Coordinator of Thermo Products.

The OHC95 has a firing rate of 75,000 Btuh with up to 4 tons of A/C capacity.  This furnace uses industry standard components such as the Riello BF3 Burner. Standard ECM blower motor offers additional energy savings.

When designing this new oil furnace, Thermo Products asked themselves “How can we make this unit easier to service than our competitors?”.  Well, they have designed easy access to the primary and secondary heat exchangers by mounting them on a roller system to be pulled out. This makes servicing the primary and secondary heat exchangers quick and easy for routine maintenance. They have also designed the secondary heat exchanger with larger tubes allowing less restricted airflow minimizing buildup.

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According to Rob Paquette, National Sales Manager for Thermo Products, They have had units in beta testing for some time now and even with the cold weather we have been experiencing lately, we have had no issues at all with this furnace.  One beta test site has seen fuel savings of approximately 25%.The OHC95 is offered in direct vent only using 3” PVC pipe.  The cabinet is 24W x 37.5D x 48 H with heavy 22 gauge cabinet steel with rounded door corners.  The powder-coated cabinet is black with silver front panels, which differs from the classic Thermo Pride furnace colors. Venting can be either left, up or right with an air supply opening of standard 20” x 20”.

Each unit comes with a ventor assembly. This is similar to an inducer fan on a gas furnace but it is in-line with the PVC pipe. This ventor is a sealed system venting flue gases when the furnace is running while at the same time bringing in combustion air.

The OHC95 Condensing Oil Furnace is currently available for sale. Thermo Products will initially offer the OHC95 to contractors who have gone through their online training class. They are offering the technical training to make sure the system is installed to their specifications for maximum performance and efficiency.


Cleaner heating oil coming to the Northeast

From PoliticoPro, By Amy R. Sisk,  The calendar may say August, but several Northeastern states are already making big decisions about how residents will heat their homes this winter.

As of July 1, heating oil suppliers in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Vermont must comply with new state rules to reduce the amount of sulfur in their product. Delaware, Maine, New Jersey, New York state and Pennsylvania are implementing similar rules.

For millions of homeowners and businesses, the change means their heating systems will emit less sulfur dioxide, which contributes to acid rain and haze. They will also burn through less fuel, and their furnaces will be able to go longer between maintenance visits, according to industry experts, who say any increase in costs should be negligible.

But the switch could prove to be a boon to the heating oil industry, which has lost market share as cleaner fuels like natural gas gain popularity. Continue reading


NORA early R&D priorities released

See entire list of priorities here.

[ezcol_1half]Brookhaven National Laboratoy (BNL), long a place of research and innovation, was the ideal location for the National Oilheat Research Alliance (NORA) to kick-off a new era of research and development (R&D). NORA held its first R&D Conference/Workshop since congressional re-authorization at the renowned venue on June 3–4.

The current NORA statute requires NORA to allocate no less than 30% of its annual budget ($3-4 million per annum, $15-$20 -million over five years) to R&D of new oilheat products, systems and solutions to benefit the seven million homes and businesses using heating oil for space heating and hot water. How to best spend this money was the focal point of the event.

Research Topic Prioritization

  1. Biofuels/Bioheat® fuel received the most votes from participants (27%), with the top priorities within Biofuels/Bioheat® fuel scoring a tie between Technical/Climate Change Information Getting to State Energy Offices/stakeholders (25%) and Addressing
  2. Biofuels/Bioheat® fuel myths with Technical Data Sheets and Handouts for Stakeholders.
  3. Other research topics getting top consideration were Field Demonstration/ Documentation (19%); Low Cost/High Efficiency
  4. Appliances (18%); Controls & Emerging Technologies (14%); Combustion/ Advanced Burners (11%); and Fuel Quality (11%).
[/ezcol_1half][ezcol_1half_end]NORA Research Management
The next step of the Research Committee is to issue a Program Opportunity Notice (PON) for soliciting projects. The first NORA PON will be issued in September 2014. There will also be an Annual Research Conference; the time and place have yet to be determined.

Research & Development funds will be allocated based upon careful review by the NORA Executive Board, Board of Directors and the Research & Development Committee.

The Conference/Workshop’s intent was to continue the process of moving oilheating technology forward and to provide maximum benefit for U.S. oilheat consumers.

Top Projects with over five Percent of total votes

  1. Develop Powerful Fuel Use Tracking/Savings Tools…simple to use with wide adoption goal 8%
  2. Combustion Monitoring 7%
  3. B-100 Burner 6%
  4. Develop virtual “Smart Meter” Technology for Instant Results & More Efficient Deliveries 6%
  5. Technical/Climate Change Info to State Energy Offices/Stakeholders 5%
  6. Address the Myths with: Technical Data Sheets/Handouts to:Real Estate Community, AHJs (Authority Having Jurisdiction:Fire Marshals, Inspectors, etc.), Insurance Companies, Customers, Blenders, Students, Environmental Groups 5%
  7. Novel Atomization Technical Feasibility 5%