Canadian Biomass Magazine

PFI implements updates to standards program

July 31, 2015
By Pellet Fuels Institute

July 31, 2015 - At the final meeting of the 2014-2015 PFI Board of Directors, the U.S.-based PFI Board approved a series of changes to the PFI Standards Program. The PFI Standards Program is a third party accredited program that enables consumers to easily identify PFI Graded Fuel: pellets from manufacturers whose pellets and facilities are subject to regular third party testing. 

“The PFI Standards Program has procedures in place to adapt to changes in the pellet fuels and pellet appliance industries to ensure it is serving manufacturers and consumers,” said PFI executive director Jennifer Hedrick. “The improvements we are announcing reflect input we’ve received from current members of the program as well as the broader industry.“ 

Some of the changes to the program simply update language in the program manuals to make it clearer and more concise. More substantive changes include the following:           

•A clarification that the program is not a weights and measures program;
•Reduced sampling frequency for manufacturers who meet requirements for three consecutive months;
•Conformance criteria reduced to 90 per cent from 95 per cent;
•Specified size and placement for the Quality Mark, the symbol that manufacturers may place on their bags to certify their inclusion in the program; and
•A modified range for acceptable bulk density to 40 to 48 lbs per cubic foot. 

There are three documents that govern the program, and all have been updated to reflect the approved changes. The documents can be accessed via the PFI website or through the American Lumber Standard Committee, the program’s oversight body. 

The goal of the program has long been to improve the quality and consistency of product available to pellet appliance owners, carried out through third party accreditation and requirements that manufacturers maintain continued compliance with the program specifications. 

While the program is voluntary, a new EPA regulation, the New Source Performance Standard for New Residential Wood Heaters (NSPS), is changing the scope of fuel and appliance standards in the United States.

The NSPS requires any new non-commercial wood-burning appliance to utilize fuel that has been graded through an EPA-authorized standards program including the PFI Standards Program. For appliances such as pellet stoves, manufacturers will be required to state that their products have been tested with fuel from a particular grading program. Appliance manufacturers also must state such claims in the owner’s manuals and in their product warranties.

For fuel manufacturers, you are encouraged to familiarize yourselves with the Rule’s requirements, including the need to participate in an EPA-approved grading program. EPA has approved three such programs, including the PFI Standards Program, which is the only program widely recognized in the United States.

For more information on fuel standards, including the various changes and updates outlined herein, or to learn how to join the program, please visit the PFI website or contact PFI Executive Director Jennifer Hedrick.

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