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Saving Energy Never Tasted So Sweet

Inventor Rejean Laverdiere loads wood into the Hurricane Force 5 evaporator.

Inventor Rejean Laverdiere loads wood into the Hurricane Force 5 evaporator.

The Maple Guys, a two-family agricultural business in New Hampshire, was recently awarded a Conservation Innovation Grant by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

The Maple Guys produces and sells maple syrup and other maple products, as well as the equipment needed to make them.

The Maple Guys received $10,534 from NRCS, which they matched with their own funds, to purchase a clean-burning, wood-fired evaporator, the Hurricane Force 5. This new stove, the first of its kind in New Hampshire, improves maple sugaring operations by reducing negative environmental impacts and increasing safety. Conservation Innovation Grant-funded projects use innovative technologies and approaches to address natural resources issues.

Maple sap is 98 percent water and 2 percent sugar, and to produce syrup, the evaporator provides constant, even heat to pans on top, which hold the sap, evaporating most of the water.

Because all the wood gases inside the stove are burned, there is very little wasted energy, which means less wood is used to power the evaporator (almost half as much as a traditional wood-fired evaporator). The increased efficiency also means fewer greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, there is no soot or creosote build-up and no sparking, making the sugaring process much safer.

In recent years, many maple producers have switched from inefficient, traditional wood-fired evaporators to evaporators powered by oil and gas. However, The Maple Guys strongly believe that the sugaring industry should rely less on oil and gas and more on local renewable fuel sources like wood.

The inventor of the Hurricane Force 5 evaporator, Rejean Laverdiere, demonstrates its use.

The inventor of the Hurricane Force 5 evaporator, Rejean Laverdiere, demonstrates its use.

The Maple Guys have taken it upon themselves to share this new technology with other maple producers by holding workshops, live and online, to demonstrate its use. They hope that others will return to using wood to power maple syrup production.

The Maple Guys are two-time winners of the Carlisle Trophy, New Hampshire’s recognition for the best maple syrup in the state.

Find out more about Conservation Innovation Grants.

Check out more conservation stories on the USDA blog.

Follow NRCS on Twitter.

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