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Retrofit wood gas burner

A research team at FHNW University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland is developing a wood gas burner with which old oil-fired heating systems can easily be retrofitted.



Development of a marketable wood gas burner with which old oil-fired heating systems can easily be retrofitted.


Over the next few years in Switzerland, large numbers of old oil-fired heating systems must be replaced or upgraded. This is a good opportunity to replace fossil fuel crude oil with a sustainable combustible such as wood. However, converting an oil-fired heating system to a wood burner is often associated with a number of difficulties: Converting the oil tank to a wood pellet store is expensive, the chimney is often not suitable due to legal regulations and ash deposits in the oil-fired boiler can be problematic.


The innovative wood gas burner is designed to use pellets to produce thermal energy for semi-detached houses and apartment buildings in the energy spectrum of 5 to 50 kilowatts. The research team is further developing a prototype made by "Pyro-Man Oy" – a spin-off from University of Eastern Finland. In the case of wood gas burners, a gas is firstly produced from the wood pellets; the second stage involves this gas being oxidised. It is possible to significantly reduce the amount of emissions this way. "As a general rule, the disadvantage of conventional wood-fired heating systems is the relatively high amount of dust emissions", says Josef Wüest. The plan is for oil-fired heating systems to be converted into CO2-neutral wood-pellet-fired heating systems using this new burner with little effort in the future, without significantly increasing the exhaust gas emissions in the process.

Project information

Implementation partner Liebi LNC AG
Implementation FHNW Institute of Bioenergy and Resource Efficiency
Duration six years
Funding Swiss Federal Office of Energy SFOE, Federal Office for the Environment FOEN, Swiss Climate Foundation, Commission for Technology and Innovation CTI and Energie 360
Project team Dr. Josef Wüest and Marc Keusch