Pellet stoves and furnaces use corn kernels as a source of renewable energy. Many stoves can use several types of fuel: corn, cherry pits, wood pellets, etc.
They first became popular during the oil shortages of the 1970s. As people became used to higher prices their popularity grew slowly. They became more sophisticated, and more physically attractive. Most stoves are now quite attractive. Commercial models are available, which can heat large buildings, or be used to generate electricity.
The chief attraction of these stoves is fuel price. Corn kernels purchased in bulk, can cost only 25% what heating oil, natural gas, or propane can. Because it is a natural pellet it is more economical and is in greater supply than manmade pellets in most areas. Wood pellets were in short supply, in many areas, in 2005. Pellet manufacturers struggled to keep up with demand. Corn remained inexpensive and readily available in corn country. By the year 2005, a standard price would be $1.80 a bushel for bulk corn. Millions of bushels of corn were readily available in corn country. Transportation and marketing of corn lagged behind demand however.
In the midwest, corn burning stoves have reached heightened popularity due to the 2005 rise in fuel prices. Waiting lists are formed in the fall, as the manufacturers cannot keep up with demand in the colder months.
Some corn stoves do not produce ash, the corn by-product forms a solid block called a "clinker" that needs to be dropped into an ash pan every 1-3 days. There are also some models of stoves that have an agitator that continuously grinds the clinker down to ash.
Comparison with ethanol
Ethanol use creates a demand for corn, but requires expensive equipment and handling and transport. Corn kernels can go straight from the combine harvester into a corn stove, if dry enough. Moisture must be no more than 15%. 10% moisture corn is ideal, as is corn that is cleaned more thoroughly. If bagged corn was marketed in non-corn-producing areas, it would probably still be cheaper than pellets in most areas due to the natural pellet advantage.
Habits and inertia on the part of home and business owners, may be a reason why corn and pellet stoves and furnaces are not more widely sold and used. This applies especially to electrical generation using large corn furnaces.
The corn and pellet stoves and furnaces text on this page uses material from the Wikipedia article "Corn and pellet stoves and furnaces". The text on this page is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.