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Almost all of Deep Portage's heating needs come from biomass energy generated by burning locally harvested firewood. By switching from propane to wood, Deep Portage saves about $50,000 each year, and it keeps the money we spend circulating in the local community. It's great for the environment too: because this wood is harvested using sustainable forestry techniques, it helps us keep our campus carbon-neutral.

In addition to keeping our facilities warm, our biomass heating system is a focal point for STEM classes about renewable energy and conservation. 

Wood Gasification Systems

Deep Portage uses three wood-gasification units to heat its main buildings. An ordinary wood furnace only captures about 50% of the potential energy contained in the wood—the rest escapes as smoke and gas. But wood gasifiers like the ones we use at Deep Portage capture that stuff that escaped and burn it a second time. The result? These systems are far more efficient, using more than 75-90% of the potential energy in the firewood. That means more heat from less fuel.

DPLC's wood gasifiers heat up water that gets pumped through our buildings, providing hot water and keeping the facilities warm and confortable.

Heating the Main Building

  • Wood Gun E500 pressurized wood boiler (on left). Manufactured in Pennsylvania. Rated at 500,000 BTU/hr.

  • Garn 3200 non-pressurized wood furnace (on right). Manufactured in St. Anthony, MN. Rated at 500,000 BTU/hr.

  • System designed and installed by Jerry Lilyard, Sun Energy, and KMI (Brainerd, MN). Covers 100% of winter heating needs.

  • $350,000 investment, funded by DEED grant (state of MN) and the Deep Portage Foundation.

  • Burns through 85 cords of wood in a typical winter. Savings over old propane system: $35,000 average per year, depending on price of commodities.

Interior of the Garn in action. 

Interior of our heating headquarters. Hot water from the wood gasifiers is stored in this 4,000 gallon tank before being pumped to the main building.

Fireplace Inserts

Our Great Hall and Dining Hall are heated with fireplace inserts that fit into beautiful fieldstone chimneys. Although they are far smaller than the Garn and the Wood Gun, they also burn their fuel twice to ensure maximum efficiency.

  • Two Regency Classic I3100 Fireplace Inserts, manufactured in Canada and Installed by Wilkening Fireplace (Walker, MN).

  • Each unit is rated at 75,000 BTU and produces a burn that is 75% efficient.

  • $10,000 investment, funded by the Deep Portage Foundation.

Heating the

Interpretive Center

  • Froling FHG Turbo pressurized wood boiler. Manufactured in Austria. Rated at 170,000 BTU/hr.

  • Installed by Jerry Lilyard, Sun Energy (Brainerd, MN).

  • $42,000 Investment, funded by the Deep Portage Foundation.

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