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Okay, fellas.....

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by ScotO, Jun 27, 2013.

  1. ScotO

    ScotO Guest

    I'm a regular over in the Wood Shed, Inglenook, DIY and Gear forums, but a newb here in the pellet world.......but my good buddies Dexter and Smoke Show are regulars here....

    Dex told me to stop over, so I had to think of a subject to 'break myself in' with here. So here it is....

    I do tree removal work as a side job, and I was considering (hear me out, CONSIDERING) doing some small scale pellet production. My cousin (and eventually my baby brother) burn pellets, and with all the tops I discard at local compost facilities, maybe I should consider making pellets out of it. Is there any 'affordable' way to get into pellet making? Any good designs for homemade pellet machines (hammer mills and pellet mills)? Go easy on me, I don't know all the 'lingo' over here.
    smoke show likes this.

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  2. jtakeman

    jtakeman Minister of Fire

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    Eww, A wood burner? :p Just kidding Scotty, Yer welcome here. Many of us also burn splits ourselves. I still have my wood eater JIC.

    I have looked into pellet making myself. Biggest problem isn't getting the fiber(dust and chips) its the mill itself. Money for equipment could be the deal killer IMHO. Takes high dollar stuff to make better than average or even an average pellet. The small home mills aren't all they are cracked up to be to make a good(high density) pellet. Compression of the fiber somewhere near 44 pounds per square foot is where a good hot pellet is at. The mills I have seen and tried have trouble with 40ish pounds per square foot. The pellets are too soft and don't make great heat. Another issues is the pellets will need to be dried a bit. Takes a lot of room to dry them thoroughly(unless you spring for a inline drier). This is only the tip of the burge AFAIK with pellet making. There are so many ins to this pellet thing.

    If you still decide to venture forward, Keep us posted. I'd love to venture down this path, But not enough dough in the pockets.
    ScotO likes this.
  3. ScotO

    ScotO Guest

    Thanks JT.....not sure what to do yet. I just hate like heck to dump all those hardwood branches at the compost site, when they could be recycled into heat. You say the best pellets are formed at PSI up in the 40's.....are there any pellet mills out there that use a "meat grinder" setup? Like the hamburger grinders at the meat market. Just curious, again I am a total newb in the pellet world.

    I thought I saw a program once where they were taking oil out of some kind of seeds, in a press that looked like a meat grinder. The end result (if I'm not mistaken) was oil and a pellet-like by-product that they used either for heat or for livestock feed....
  4. jtakeman

    jtakeman Minister of Fire

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    Never seen one like a meat grinder(got a link?). The usual thing with animal feed mills is they don't do the density thing. If you want to try a lower volume feed mill. You might be able to get by "if" the stove has a lot more feed rate than the house needs with the bought pellet brands. You can compensate the density thing by feeding more of the less dense fuel into the burn pot.

    The home owner mills are similar to the pic. They are flat die mills and common for animal feed where the density isn't a big deal. Some of the larger flat die mills do an OK job at making pellets but they are also known to eat the dies a lot faster than a ring or rotary die mill.

    10323V535-0.jpg



    Here is a site that has some mills and the prices. http://www.chinapelletmill.com/Small-Pellet-Mill/

    The better mills use a rotary or ring die, which will give much better compression and allow for high in feed of the stock. So you will get more volume produced with the larger mills which means you'll not need to work as long with them compared to a small feed stock mill.

    Note: It actually takes a lot more pressure than 40 PSI to make a pellet. Pellets are Density checked by placing them into a 1 cubic foot container/box(my bad). The more weigh that fits in the box has a higher density rating. Pellet fuels institute has set standards for pellet fuel. They have the specs here;

    http://pelletheat.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/PFI-Standard-Specification-November-2011.pdf

    Density spec is at 8.1
    ScotO likes this.
  5. jtakeman

    jtakeman Minister of Fire

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    Another note is the wood fiber needs to be as bark free as possible to make a clean burning pellet. Otherwise they will be ashy as all get out. If your gonna just mill in the bark with the wood fiber? You can also mill the leaves and your grass clippings as long as you don't mind high ash fuel. The more ash the more you'll need to clean the pellet eater.
    ScotO likes this.
  6. ScotO

    ScotO Guest

    Yeah, I've been looking at some of those Chinese mills and that is just too much money for me to justify spending, especially if the product I'd end up with would be under par.....

    The stuff I'd be using would be branches, leaves, etc....so lots of bark and undesireables in the pellets, making it a high-ash product.....
    Wish I could figure out some kind of homemade apparatus....
  7. ScotL

    ScotL Feeling the Heat

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    There's no real way to measure it but the Andritz people tell me it requires somewhere between 30,000 and 70,000 psi to press wood through the dies.
  8. Delta-T

    Delta-T Minister of Fire

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    I know a few opertaions that are well above 100,000 PSI at the die. Pellets are packaged at about 40ish pounds per square foot...1 bag is roughly 1 cubic foot, so 40 lbs...but if you drop a pellet in water, it sinks, therefore density greater than water, >64 lb/sq ft. finished product. Very few operations out there, even on the commercial scale, using that type of fiber supply (branches and whatnot). I say you might be better served, and have more fun with, converting an old tractor to wood gas powered and build yourself a cool 50 gal drum condenser set-up. Then, if/when the zombie pockyclips happens, you'll be all set when it comes to tractor pulls.
  9. smoke show

    smoke show Guest

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  10. ScotO

    ScotO Guest

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  11. SmokeyTheBear

    SmokeyTheBear Minister of Fire

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    Eventually you get to the point where you can't clean the pellet eater fast enough to keep the temperatures up in the abode on a cold day. Even the multi-fuel units have an upper limit on ash content they can withstand. Some stoves even need a different burn pot to make ago of burning high ash fuel.
  12. ScotO

    ScotO Guest

    Smokey, if I was to build a pellet mill, I'd be giving them to my brother to use, and maybe building a basket to burn them in my woodstoves...I was thinking more in the line of doing this pellet thing just for fun and for a way to recycle, but it's looking mighty costly to make a mill....

    I'm going to look into that build that Smoke Show posted, see if I can't gather up some jingle to but the hammer and die plate. I'll find a gearbox and motor, and build an intake and exit hopper myself.....

    Just something else to keep me occupied (like I ain't busy enough already....;))
  13. SmokeyTheBear

    SmokeyTheBear Minister of Fire

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    If you can fab up part of a mill from scrap and can live with the resulting pellets by all means play.

    You might be able to find some parts at the surplus center http://www.surpluscenter.com/ just remember what they have today they may not have later.
  14. jtakeman

    jtakeman Minister of Fire

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    Scotty, I saw a tool that looked like a log splitter that made logs out of leaves-saw dust ect. That would be a much better fit for you. The baskets don't really work all that well except for maybe shoulder season ish weather IMHO.

    If your handy and can fab. Sure a mill can be made by hand. I seen a home made one on CL that looked decent. The only bought parts were the flat die and the rollers. Every thing else was hand fabbed. Wish I saved pic's for ya.
  15. SmokeyTheBear

    SmokeyTheBear Minister of Fire

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    That link that smoke show posted has pictures of a homemade unit, when Scotty gets a look at it he'll know more, it was made from a purchased roller and die set.

    I'd be tempted to play around but I'd have to also purchase raw materials which puts it out of any chance of paying off.

    ETA: Scotty, I hope Dexter also told you we are a rough crowd :)
    ScotO likes this.
  16. save$

    save$ Minister of Fire

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    Scotty,I know you are busy any time your eyes are open but if you let those tree trimmings compost, they haven't been wasted. As mentioned earlier, a lot of bark will be a dirtily pellet and not good for most stoves. Most pellet burners are as biased about their pellets as they are their beer!
    ScotO likes this.
  17. SmokeyTheBear

    SmokeyTheBear Minister of Fire

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    Leave our brews out of it OM :p.

    Just waiting for my 'barb to thaw.
  18. DexterDay

    DexterDay Guest

    Just mention Beer and people come running..... ;)

    Sorry I didn't see this earlier. Been working like crazy the last couple weeks :(

    If it was easy, we would all do it. It's possible and there is one on CL near me (China unit that's used). The owner said he used Leaves to make pellets, but leaves have a VERY high ash content, so he liked to clean his stove a LOT!!!

    Welcome Scotty. We are pretty laid back.... Like beer... :) And have the occasional folk, who ask about burning pellets in a wood stove with a pellet basket! (BTW- Don't try it) Did I mention Beer.. ;lol
    ScotO, will711 and jtakeman like this.
  19. smoke show

    smoke show Guest

    beer? where?

    don't let the negativity here discourage ya.

    if you can build it relatively cheap and it don't live up to your expectations, sell it to some sap on CL.
    ScotO, DexterDay and will711 like this.
  20. smwilliamson

    smwilliamson Minister of Fire

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    Don't know of you have a tractor with a pto attachment but saw a YouTube vid of a pretty powerful unit cracking out some pellets from whole branches. No idea how well it burned but was impressive to watch. One thing too about the hobby mills...it may take 1/2 hr to make a 40 lb bag :)
    ScotO likes this.
  21. will711

    will711 Minister of Fire

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    I'm out'a breath I ran so fast ;) I need a Beer.
  22. Eatonpcat

    Eatonpcat Minister of Fire

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    Pictures or it didn't happen!!;)
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