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Knowledge Base » Fuels for Stoves

2. Solid Smokeless Fuels

Smokeless fuels, as the name suggests burn with little or no visible smoke compared with house coal, they are suitable for use in Smoke Control Areas. The calorific value (the amount of heat released during combustion for a specified amount) varies with the different types of smokeless fuels but is typically between 8-9.5kW/kg.

Smokeless fuels can be divided into two categories: natural solid fuels and manufactured solid fuels.

Manufactured solid fuels are available in two forms: coke and briquettes.
Coke is produced using bituminous coal which is heated in a process called ‘carbonisation’. This drives off the volatile matter and smoke producing impurities contained within the coal and depending on the temperature level will either produce ‘hard coke’ or ‘soft coke’. Hard coke is a dense grey fuel containing very little volatile matter and is suitable for use on closed appliances only. Soft coke is black and has an airy, sparse structure. It is suitable for use on open fires and closed appliances.

Briquettes can be made using various methods including heating bituminous coal to its softening point in a fluidised bed pressing the particles together whilst at the same time driving off volatiles. Another process grinds it, finely binding it together with a binder. These are suitable for use on open fires or in room heaters and boilers.

Beware of petroleum based fuels such as petroleum coke as they can seriously damage appliances and flues due to their high heat content and low ash content, if in doubt consult your coal merchant and/or appliance manufacturer.

Natural smokeless fuels or Anthracites are available in different sizes, Large nuts (Stove nuts), Small nuts (Stovesse). Depending on size, Anthracite can be used in room heaters, independent boilers and cookers and nowadays grains and beans are available which are suitable for gravity fed boilers. Anthracites are authorised for use in Smoke Control Areas