Cheap and abundant combustible additive to wood pellets?

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monteville

Member
Nov 23, 2019
188
Dallas
At 200-300 per ton, wood pellets have no significant price advantage against propane and oil.

The heat value of pellets are lower than oil of the same volume. What are some cheap and abundant combustible materials that we can add to wood pellets, in order to boost its heat value, to reduce per BTU cost to consumers, or improve the quality (strength, stability, consistency etc) of pellets

These materials has to be either around pellet mills or around pellet consumers (to be carried through reverse logistics to pellet mill).

They should not have sulfur, chlorine, heavy metal, or extra ash content because these contaminants will make pellets fail the spec test.
 

BigJohnfromCT

Feeling the Heat
Dec 29, 2012
289
Danbury, CT
Personally, I wouldn't put anything in my stove that wasn't meant to be burned in a pellet stove for fear of overheating or jamming. Just my two cents
 

Washed-Up

Minister of Fire
Nov 5, 2011
876
Kananaskis,Alberta, Canada
The ONLY additives I’ve heard of are creosote buster pellets and that’s not what you’re looking for…mixing different types of pellets, softwood and hardwood helps some stoves burn better
 

ABMax24

Minister of Fire
Sep 18, 2019
1,318
Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada
Softwood pellets stick together well because of the lignins, maybe a pulp mill could get you access to lignins in some form that could be added to the pellets.

As far as cheap fuels, there is no free lunch, best I can think of is paper/cardboard that isn't fit for recycling, but then the issue of glues, contaminants and inks appear and could cause the production of noxious combustion byproducts.
 

zrock

Minister of Fire
Dec 2, 2017
1,199
bc
All depends on where you live and what the cost of hydro, gas, oil is costing you.. For me its a no brainer as i save about $300+ every two months on my gas and hydro bills...

Only other thing i have seen is burning a mix of corn but your stove has to be set to burn that as its much more corrosive than pellets
 
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monteville

Member
Nov 23, 2019
188
Dallas
Softwood pellets stick together well because of the lignins, maybe a pulp mill could get you access to lignins in some form that could be added to the pellets.

As far as cheap fuels, there is no free lunch, best I can think of is paper/cardboard that isn't fit for recycling, but then the issue of glues, contaminants and inks appear and could cause the production of noxious combustion byproducts.
Kraft Lignin has to be desulfurized before being mixed into wood pellet feedstock, otherwise sulfur will be over the limits.
I believe we have to add acid to desulfurize lignin, but then it's costly -- because it has a lot of sulfur, that requires much acid to remove.
We can also add limestone powder to absorb sulfur dioxide, but it will produce additional ash content -- gypsum. I am not sure this gypsum won't gunk up the chimney. Have to do experiments.
 

monteville

Member
Nov 23, 2019
188
Dallas
All depends on where you live and what the cost of hydro, gas, oil is costing you.. For me its a no brainer as i save about $300+ every two months on my gas and hydro bills...

Only other thing i have seen is burning a mix of corn but your stove has to be set to burn that as its much more corrosive than pellets
burning corn is unethical because corn is food, but we can feed corn to animals and harvest the animals' body warmth with a heat pump. A cabin full of chickens is very warm.
 
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ABMax24

Minister of Fire
Sep 18, 2019
1,318
Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada
burning corn is unethical because corn is food, but we can feed corn to animals and harvest the animals' body warmth with a heat pump. A cabin full of chickens is very warm.

Better tell that to the corn ethanol industry.

Stuffing a coup full of chickens is unethical.
 

SidecarFlip

Minister of Fire
Feb 7, 2010
5,273
S.E. Michigan
burning corn is unethical because corn is food, but we can feed corn to animals and harvest the animals' body warmth with a heat pump. A cabin full of chickens is very warm.
That has to be the most unintelligent statement I've ever read on this forum. Bar none.

You just went from a purveyor of pipe dreams to the class idiot.
 

monteville

Member
Nov 23, 2019
188
Dallas
That has to be the most unintelligent statement I've ever read on this forum. Bar none.

You just went from a purveyor of pipe dreams to the class idiot.
Burning the edible part of corn is misuse of resources.
If you have corn you have more corn stalks and cobs than the edible part. Why not grind these down and burn them? I suppose these are easier to store and dry than the edible part.
 

SidecarFlip

Minister of Fire
Feb 7, 2010
5,273
S.E. Michigan
Not at all. American farmers use combines to harvest corn. European farmers use stalk choppers. Different technology entirely. Now if you want to buy me a 250 grand stalk chopper, I'll chop the entire stalk and cob but as it is, I'm not about to invest 250 grand in a piece of equipment that will only harvest corn. You see, we also harvest wheat and soybeans and choppers cannot do that. Only combines with the appropriate table attached.

You need to stick to burning leaves and chunks of wood. Corn is way outta your league
 

monteville

Member
Nov 23, 2019
188
Dallas
Not at all. American farmers use combines to harvest corn. European farmers use stalk choppers. Different technology entirely. Now if you want to buy me a 250 grand stalk chopper, I'll chop the entire stalk and cob but as it is, I'm not about to invest 250 grand in a piece of equipment that will only harvest corn. You see, we also harvest wheat and soybeans and choppers cannot do that. Only combines with the appropriate table attached.

You need to stick to burning leaves and chunks of wood. Corn is way outta your league
US and EU have different government incentives. EU has higher incentive for biomass fuel. I cannot blame you for it, but if our federal government really want to be responsible for the environment, biomass harvest efficiency has to catch up with the rest of world. What we grow with much petroleum and fertilizers (think of the CO2 released) have to be fully utilized.
 
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SidecarFlip

Minister of Fire
Feb 7, 2010
5,273
S.E. Michigan
Entirely out of my control and yours as well. Don't know if you realize it but the EU buys wood pellets by the shipload from Canadian pellet mills. and China buys coal by the boatload from our Alaskan coal mines. Processed wood pellets and coal are big business today.

For me, corn is a very cheap (almost free) source of heat. It would be foolish for me to use anything else.
 

ABMax24

Minister of Fire
Sep 18, 2019
1,318
Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada
US and EU have different government incentives. EU has higher incentive for biomass fuel. I cannot blame you for it, but if our federal government really want to be responsible for the environment, biomass harvest efficiency has to catch up with the rest of world. What we grow with much petroleum and fertilizers (think of the CO2 released) have to be fully utilized.

I'd argue that much of that waste vegetative matter is better off being returned to the soils, the soils of agricultural land can be used as massive carbon sinks, to me this is easier and makes more sense than trying to burn every last piece of a plant for fuel and sending that carbon back into the atmosphere. Doing this also reduces the dependence on artificial fertilizers required to maintain productivity on this land.
 

SidecarFlip

Minister of Fire
Feb 7, 2010
5,273
S.E. Michigan
Kind of like ethanol. It's common knowledge that it takes almost 50% more energy to produce a gallon of ethanol than that gallon produces in energy. Ethanol is and always has been a net looser but it's all about saving the planet and climate changes that drive the ethanol subsidies.

Also common knowledge amongst farmers that corn alcohol distillers cannot survive without a heavy government subsidy, despite what they say.

We had a local corn alcohol plant built here (and it's closed now and will stay closed). When it first opened, they would take any shelled corn but as time went on, they got very particular and demanded we only grew specific varieties of corn and we had to purchase our seed from them and then contract the selling price before we even planted it. That lasted maybe 2 years and everyone said, enough is enough and they went out of business. No one profited except the owners who collected massive government subsidies. everyone else got zip, me included. Now all of us sell our crops for export mostly with some of it staying in this country but the bulk of it goes elsewhere. America still feeds the world. That will never change despite what you hear on the boob tube or read in the paper.
 

ABMax24

Minister of Fire
Sep 18, 2019
1,318
Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada
Entirely out of my control and yours as well. Don't know if you realize it but the EU buys wood pellets by the shipload from Canadian pellet mills. and China buys coal by the boatload from our Alaskan coal mines. Processed wood pellets and coal are big business today.

For me, corn is a very cheap (almost free) source of heat. It would be foolish for me to use anything else.

I agree, the best fuel is the one that comes from your own backyard, it makes a lot more sense for so many reason to make use of what we have locally instead of shipping fuels halfway across the globe.
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
2,831
Long Island NY
@SidecarFlip
Can I ask you why the corn you use is given away for free? I understood it won't germinate. But I have been puzzled (out of ignorance) as to why this corn is then not sold (for a lower price) for e.g. livestock feed or other uses that may produce more value than burning it?

Not because I'm critical - just because I want to know why the economics (evidently) dictate this outcome.
 

monteville

Member
Nov 23, 2019
188
Dallas
@SidecarFlip
Can I ask you why the corn you use is given away for free? I understood it won't germinate. But I have been puzzled (out of ignorance) as to why this corn is then not sold (for a lower price) for e.g. livestock feed or other uses that may produce more value than burning it?

Not because I'm critical - just because I want to know why the economics (evidently) dictate this outcome.
Today's price, corn sells for $5.38 per bushel = $215/ton. Wood pellets are usually 250/ton, corn's combustion heat is 7000BTU/lb, wood pellet is 8000BTU/lb
They are more expensive than anthracite rice coal, which is around 250/ton and 12000BTU/lb.

Wood chips are much cheaper, fresh wood chips from sawmills or urban landscapers are $20-$50/ton and about 5000 BTU/lb depending on type of wood. That's why I believe pellet stove is dependent on subsidies to be marketable, both being granular solid fuel, pellets cannot compete with chips except where long distance shipping is required.
 

EbS-P

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2019
1,713
SE North Carolina
At 200-300 per ton, wood pellets have no significant price advantage against propane and oil.
Being more environmentally conscious often times isn’t cheaper. Pellet stoves you “pay” for convenience. Conservation always wins. Energy market is global so it’s no surprise that pellets are not cost advantageous. Renewable electricity( wind solar geothermal) generation and storage are the solutions burning is not. carbon foot print of the whole fuel cycle must be considered. How about cotton seeds.
 

monteville

Member
Nov 23, 2019
188
Dallas
Being more environmentally conscious often times isn’t cheaper. Pellet stoves you “pay” for convenience. Conservation always wins. Energy market is global so it’s no surprise that pellets are not cost advantageous. Renewable electricity( wind solar geothermal) generation and storage are the solutions burning is not. carbon foot print of the whole fuel cycle must be considered. How about cotton seeds.
both being granular solid fuel, pellets cannot compete with chips except where long distance shipping is required.
 

ABMax24

Minister of Fire
Sep 18, 2019
1,318
Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada
What does it cost to build a wood chip heater? That's the other item to consider, it's great to have a cheap source of fuel but if the heater costs $20k a lot of people are not going to choose that route. Use solar panels as an example, the energy source is literally free but many can't justify the upfront cost to have them installed. In my own case I could probably cover the rest of my roof in solar panels, install a ground sourced heat pump and end up with heat for nearly zero energy cost, but the upfront costs keep me cutting, splitting and stacking wood for the stove, or when I don't have time to do that I just pay the natural gas bill instead.

Pellets work well because they are a consistent granular fuel and it is fairly straightforward to build an appliance to burn them, and most importantly its easy to burn them cleanly and pass emission testing.
 
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zrock

Minister of Fire
Dec 2, 2017
1,199
bc
That has to be the most unintelligent statement I've ever read on this forum. Bar none.

You just went from a purveyor of pipe dreams to the class idiot.
haha you said it...


Now if you want to burn wood chips those leave a mill soaking wet, get stored out side in the rain, size is far from consistent. So now you have to find a way to dry them and store them safely. So by the time you get a big enough load to your home, dry them out, and your time doing all this your going to bring the price up. Not even sure how you would dry them other than putting them in the wife close dryer... I work across from a pellet mill and they have 3 furnaces to dry these things their is so much moisture in them.
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
2,831
Long Island NY
He earlier proposed spreading them out in the yard, on the ground, in the sun.
Not as mulch, but to dry...:rolleyes:
 
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SidecarFlip

Minister of Fire
Feb 7, 2010
5,273
S.E. Michigan
@SidecarFlip
Can I ask you why the corn you use is given away for free? I understood it won't germinate. But I have been puzzled (out of ignorance) as to why this corn is then not sold (for a lower price) for e.g. livestock feed or other uses that may produce more value than burning it?

Not because I'm critical - just because I want to know why the economics (evidently) dictate this outcome.
Seed corn (coated or non coated) has to germinate at 95% or better or it's not marketable. That actually a USDA mandate and seed corn don't sell for $200 a ton, in fact it don't sell by the ton, it sells by the pound in 53 pound quantity and last year's bag price was $325.00 per bag. I only burn the non coated seed corn, the coated corn must be disposed of in a low level hazardous waste landfill because it has various pesticides and herbicides bonded to it.

It is packaged in lots, serial numbered and divided by strain (variety) and when it's tested (they sample one bag on the skid and if the sample from that bag don't germ at 95 or better, the entire skid is rejected and cannot be sold and I get it.

Big difference between new crop or old crop field corn at the elevator (which sells for whatever the current price is) (and it fluctuates daily) and what I burn. Typically there are 2500 pounds of bagged no germ seed corn per skid or about 15 grand a skid roughly.

One advantage of off grade seed corn, unlike field corn purchased at an elevator is, the corn is very clean as in no earwings, trash or dirt. The corn is very carefully cleaned and dried down to around 10-12% rm and then bagged in Tyvek bags the won't allow moisture ingress. The drier it is, the better it combusts.

I have 5 full skids in the barn presently and 3 skids of pellets.

The outfit I get it from down the road cannot sell it for animal feed, even if they could I have to presume they would not. They are in the seed business, not the feed business. I've never inquired about that, all I was told is, if you want it, bring the tractor down and pick it up, which I do. The do soybean seed to but I won't take any off germ beans simply because soybeans are an oilseed and oilseed and biomass stoves don't mix well. Oilseed burns way too hot for use in any biomass stove. I have, in the past, mixed in a small amount but not much. Don't need to be destroying my unit from excess heat,
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
2,831
Long Island NY
Seed corn (coated or non coated) has to germinate at 95% or better or it's not marketable. That actually a USDA mandate and seed corn don't sell for $200 a ton, in fact it don't sell by the ton, it sells by the pound in 53 pound quantity and last year's bag price was $325.00 per bag. I only burn the non coated seed corn, the coated corn must be disposed of in a low level hazardous waste landfill because it has various pesticides and herbicides bonded to it.

It is packaged in lots, serial numbered and divided by strain (variety) and when it's tested (they sample one bag on the skid and if the sample from that bag don't germ at 95 or better, the entire skid is rejected and cannot be sold and I get it.

Big difference between new crop or old crop field corn at the elevator (which sells for whatever the current price is) (and it fluctuates daily) and what I burn. Typically there are 2500 pounds of bagged no germ seed corn per skid or about 15 grand a skid roughly.

One advantage of off grade seed corn, unlike field corn purchased at an elevator is, the corn is very clean as in no earwings, trash or dirt. The corn is very carefully cleaned and dried down to around 10-12% rm and then bagged in Tyvek bags the won't allow moisture ingress. The drier it is, the better it combusts.

I have 5 full skids in the barn presently and 3 skids of pellets.

The outfit I get it from down the road cannot sell it for animal feed, even if they could I have to presume they would not. They are in the seed business, not the feed business. I've never inquired about that, all I was told is, if you want it, bring the tractor down and pick it up, which I do. The do soybean seed to but I won't take any off germ beans simply because soybeans are an oilseed and oilseed and biomass stoves don't mix well. Oilseed burns way too hot for use in any biomass stove. I have, in the past, mixed in a small amount but not much. Don't need to be destroying my unit from excess heat,

Ok. Thank you for the clarification.