What do you know about biofuel? You may have heard it’s healthier for the environment, because it uses recycled materials and has fewer harmful emissions. Some kinds of biogas are made from animal waste, so they’re popular in farms and ranches. Why? These commercial residences have lots of dung and minimal electric supply. Quite often, they’re not even linked to the power grid. So if some of their waste can be repurposed to light the house and charge their phones, it’s a pretty sweet deal.
In urban areas, worries about deforestation, global warming, and climate change have made us a little wary of how we use technology. We don’t quite want to give up our luxuries though – some of them have become essential, and we’re not sure how we’d survive without them. So instead of quitting our harmful habits cold turkey, we’ve opted for safer substitutes. For example, roller shutters can minimise your reliance on HVAC and its attendant CFC. And organic heating can reduce toxic effluent, replacing it with air and water.
One such option is ethanol. If it smells familiar, it’s because it’s the same chemical found in booze, though in this case, it’s been restructured as fuel. Ethanol is largely derived from maize and sugarcane. When it burns in a heater, it has a barely detectable smell, and its by-products are water vapour and just a tad of carbon dioxide, far less than other types of fuel. Ethanol fireplaces are gorgeous and stylish, but they don’t emit as much heat as gas, electricity, or firewood, so they’re largely decorative and often portable. You can use one to warm your work-desk or your feet, but you’ll need an extra heater for the rest of the room.
Curvy And Convenient
Cocoon fireplaces are among the most common ethanol models. They’re on the smaller side, usually two feet at their widest points, and their design is spherical or ovoid. The ‘pod’ portion of the furnace is more or less uniform. It’s a cocoon that looks a bit like a stereotypical space ship, and has a black or metallic finish, depending on the model you buy. One side of the cocoon has an opening where the burner sits. The flame is usually exposed – there’s no glass façade – but it’s deep enough inside the cavern that it’s safe from breezes.
Cocoon fireplaces have three iterations. They can be suspended from the ceiling, freestanding with a one-foot floor pedestal, or adhered to the wall for a ‘free-floating’ effect. Cocoons use less than 2 litres of fuel when their tanks are full, and they can burn for roughly 6 hours. Their clean curves, glossy finish, and green sensibilities make them beautiful, aesthetic pieces that express environmental beliefs. Because they have no harmful emissions, you don’t need a flue or special ventilation, and work well even in tiny flats or balconies.
If you’d prefer a fireplace that looks a little more conventional, ditch the Vellums and Aeris (Pedestal is the third Cocoon model) and opt for an Icon Nero instead. These linear fireplaces follow the standard design of modern heaters, with an elongated style and slim-line burner. The main difference between Icon Neros and other insert fireplaces is the glass pane. Because Icon Nero emits limited heat and no sparks or fumes, it doesn’t need glass fascia. In other fireplaces, the glass is intended as a safety measure.
Clean Lines For Clean Burns
It prevents fumes and embers from creating fire hazards. It increases the amount of radiant heat, stretching warmth wider. And it sometimes contributes to closed flue systems by preventing the fireplace from drawing the room’s oxygen. Ethanol heaters don’t need any of these extras. No fumes means no flue, so no venting – direct or otherwise. And low flame temperature means no specialised methods of heat distribution. Ethanol heaters often have protruding fascia, to offer some protection from moving air that may douse the flame.
They can burn up to 8 hours and their ‘fuel tank’ is about 5 litres. Another option? Follow your gut to the Instinct Bio Fires showroom. Or just call them – they offer installation services all over Canberra and Sydney. Their ethanol fireplaces are customised, so they’ll work with you to build the exact design you require. They have lots of options – single-sided, double-sided, islands, benches, free-standing units, and wall-mounted pieces.
You could buy an individual burner box, for replacement and repair. Fuel capacities range from 1 litre to 11 litres. And if you want something for the yard, you can buy a round, smoke-free, ethanol fire-pit or a tower fireplace encased in glass. Or try their stencilled burners with sunset or bonsai designs. Some models have remote control and electronic ignition. So take your time and shop around – you’re sure to find exactly what you need.