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Making your own pellets

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by heaterman, Jun 5, 2013.

  1. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    I have a client that owns a cabinet making shop who is looking for a heat source other than LP Gas for his spray booth make up air. (1/2 million btu's)

    They obviously generate large quantities of sawdust and it runs about 6-10% moisture content. I'm thinking a possible scenario might be for him to install a pellet boiler or two and make his own pellets but I have no idea of what is involved machinery wise for pressing the pellets.

    Any of you guys have experience or know of manufacturers of this type equipment?

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  2. smoke show

    smoke show Guest

    The general consensus is its not worth it. Do a search, its been discussed many a times.
    will711, StihlHead and Eatonpcat like this.
  3. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    Maybe cut out the middle man and move up to a sawdust burner?
    Delta-T and Eatonpcat like this.
  4. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    Well that's what I'm trying to figure out for the guy. Bear in mind that he has mountains of sawdust already made as a byproduct of his business. Nothing further needed other than pressing it into pellet form.
    M/C runs 6-10% as produced so he'd probably have to add some water to get to 10-15% for good processing.
  5. Delta-T

    Delta-T Minister of Fire

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    the numbers don't really work on a scale that small. you could get a cheap pelletizer, something for animal feed, and run it on a small HP engine, but the pellets wouldn't be sufficently dense to burn correctly in a commercially available pellet boiler. you have to get the pellets to come out of the die at greater than ~64 lb/ cu ft...which isn't easy. I've seen things done on that scale in briquette form, with purpose built equipment = pricey. Even pellet mills will just go ahead and burn sawdust for steam and hot air, rather than process into pellets and burn. If your friend also has a large water wheel attached to a shaft that is being under utilized, well, then we might have a different scenario;)
    smoke show likes this.
  6. jtakeman

    jtakeman Minister of Fire

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    I have seen a burner that was a retro fit to an industrial boiler. It can be fired by Several fuels including sawdust and planer chips. They also make complete systems as well.

    http://www.leiprod.com/leiproducts/
  7. mepellet

    mepellet Minister of Fire

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    Yup. Seems like this topic comes up several times a year and no one has gone through with it for one reason or another.
  8. welderboyjk

    welderboyjk Member

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    Why not look into some sort of heat recovery on the outgoing air? I believe there are commercial units available and probably cheaper (I.E. DIY) varieties that can be made.
    Tedinski likes this.
  9. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    After doing some research on the cost of a mill large enough to produce pellets at a reasonable rate and considering the labor/time involved, I can see why few are actually doing this. Very labor intense for mills that will only crank out >500 pounds per hour.
    Poor ROI.
  10. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    There is virtually no heat to recover once the hood runs for a minute or two. Visualize a building the size of a small ranch home with 10,000CFM being pulled through it while it's 0* outside and you can form a mental picture of the environment they are spraying in right now.
  11. mepellet

    mepellet Minister of Fire

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    First step may be to confirm the hood is correctly sized.
  12. ScotL

    ScotL Feeling the Heat

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    Industrial burners do not burn the pellets in their pellet form anyway. They are ground up first. With a wood suspension burner and a grinder to grind your sawdust into a flour you could use the dried sawdust just the way it is without pelletizing.

    For 500,000 BTU/hr you would need about 65 lbs of dust per hour. Since your moisture is just a little on the high side (but still great for a suspension burner) maybe a little more than 65 pounds.

    The only problem is, I don't know if anyone makes a wood suspension burner that small. I have seen solid pellet burners in that size range - we have a 600,000 btu boiler here - but I haven't seen suspension burners that small. You could probably get a biomass burner that size but it would have to be designed for your lower than normal biomass moisture fuel.
  13. saladdin

    saladdin Feeling the Heat

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    MIL has her own cabinet business (and other things like mantels, cabinet doors...you get the picture) and it's not worth it to them to make the pellets. They have tons and tons of sawdust.

    Most on this forum have friends or families that have access to tons of sawdust and none of us can find an efficient way of doing it. Doubt you are any different. Unless you just have thousands to dollars to burn and a lot of extra time to do it.
  14. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    The equipment to handle/burn dry sawdust is out there but very pricey for a project of this scale. Probably talking $75K+ including the storage bin and feed auger.

    Of course.....if he goes with an LP gas fired makeup air unit, that thing will suck down LP at the rate of about $24/hour
  15. hoverfly

    hoverfly Minister of Fire

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    I forgot the name of it but how about piling the sawdust on top of a circuit of pex tubing and collect the heat from decomposition? Sell the compost during the summer to local gardeners and/or landscapers? Maybe bag it and sell it that way as well. If not just dump it in the back yard.

    Ah here we go Compost Water Heater from Mother Earth News.
  16. Lake Girl

    Lake Girl Minister of Fire

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    While looking around, came across the Curran Renewable Energy installation. A little big for the OPs needs;lol
    http://www.energyunlimitedinc.com/photogallery.htm

    The LEI products are interesting ... how costly though? The manure processing equipment would be an economic bonus for cow and horse farms ... depending on the costing. Wonder what size farm would be the break-over point economically speaking.

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