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Environment

UAF Extension hosts workshops on reducing wood-burning air pollution

  • Author: Zaz Hollander
  • Updated: September 19
  • Published September 19

With winter's approach, burning wood for heat, electricity or even something called biochar is the subject of a series of free workshops offered this week by the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service.

The workshops in Fairbanks, Anchorage, Palmer, Sitka and Juneau will focus on topics including residential wood boilers; how to choose a wood stove; comparing pellets, chips and logs; greenhouse heat; wood care; and emissions and particulates.

Woodsmoke has been blamed for poor air quality that prompted federal regulations in the Fairbanks area and is also causing air pollution problems in Butte.

Biochar is also on the workshop agenda: The specially produced charcoal is used as a soil amendment and for water filtration.

A plume of smoke blankets Butte in 2013. (Patty Sullivan / Matanuska-Susitna Borough)

Biochar is made by roasting brush or limbs while keeping oxygen out and then halting the burning with water, according to Extension energy specialist Art Nash. The resulting pocked charcoal acts as a storehouse for moisture and nutrients and can be used by gardeners but is also being studied for use as a water filtration device.

Nash and Guillermo Metz of Cornell Cooperative Extension will lead a presentation from 5 to 9 p.m. Sept. 21 at the Cold Climate Housing Research Center in Fairbanks. Metz, the green building and renewable energy coordinator at Cornell, and retired forester Glen Holt will lead the same presentation in the other communities.

Workshops will be offered from 5 to 9 p.m. Sept. 22 at the BP Energy Center in Anchorage; 1 to 4 p.m. Sept. 23 at the Matanuska Experiment Farm in Palmer; noon to 2:30 p.m. Sept. 24 at Sitka's Harrigan Centennial Hall; and 5 to 7:30 p.m. Sept. 24 at the Juneau Extension office, 450 Whittier St.

For more information, go to the Extension website or contact Nash at 907-474-6366.

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