Using horse bedding to heat homes? This can sound strange at first, but this idea is far from being a joke. Since last November, the Belgian start-up, Equiwood, has been selling briquettes made of chips and dung. Through the upgrading of waste, Equiwood provides service to stable owners while offering an alternative fuel to consumers and forming a short production process.
In 2015, entrepreneurs Dany De Bolle and Stéphane Licata founded the Equiwood SPRL, whose production site is located in Philipeville, in the French-speaking part of Belgium. Their project aims to transform the wood chips used for bedding in equestrians into briquettes suitable for wooden stoves and boilers. For Belgian stables, this approach is an intelligent and sustainable solution for the disposal of their waste. Indeed, horse manure is seldom used by farmers as a natural fertilizer. For now, about ten Belgian teams are using Equiwood’s services and the demand is increasing. According to De Bolle, Belgium is one of the countries with the most horses per square meter. Currently, 7.000 tons of equestrian bedding are used by Equiwood, and the logs are sold to some 80 Belgian and Luxembourg retailers.
The Equiwood log is a good complement to other fuels (pellets, chips, wood-logs); it remains simple to handle and offers good energy performance. According to De Bolle, it is drier (10-12% moisture only, compared with about 20% for firewood) and has a high density. In addition, it has a good burning combustion: the log burns for 1,5 hours and embers keeps the temperature of the fireplace for an additional 4 to 5 hours. De Bolle adds that an Equiwood log pallet (540 logs) is sufficient to guarantee a supplementary heating to a household during a winter. Thanks to its high energy density, this fuel allows space saving compared to conventional logs (storage 4 to 5 times less bulky).
The annual heat requirements for the log manufacturing process are fully covered by a biomass boiler acquired by the company. With a power of 1.000 kW, this boiler is also powered by horse bedding. Concretely, once the raw material is sorted (waste disposal such as pieces of iron or plastics) and dried at 95 °C, the large pieces are transformed into logs and the remainder serves as fuel for the boiler. Besides the boiler, an additional 150 kW electricity is required to operate the site. That is why, in the long-term, Equiwood would like to strive towards total energy autonomy by equipping itself with a system of photovoltaic panels or cogeneration. A good example of smart synergy between biomass energy and other renewables !