Cheap and abundant combustible additive to wood pellets?

  • Active since 1995, Hearth.com is THE place on the internet for free information and advice about wood stoves, pellet stoves and other energy saving equipment.

    We strive to provide opinions, articles, discussions and history related to Hearth Products and in a more general sense, energy issues.

    We promote the EFFICIENT, RESPONSIBLE, CLEAN and SAFE use of all fuels, whether renewable or fossil.

SidecarFlip

Minister of Fire
Feb 7, 2010
5,273
S.E. Michigan
If anyone lives close, I'd be happy to share. I usually have way more than I need. I have a large barn where I store them inside and out of the weather. If anyone wants some, let me know. You will need at least a 1 ton pickup truck and I have a forklift to load them. You will have to destroy the empty bags as they are marked with lot numbers and machine sealed and not recyclable.

Folks across the road have a bio mass stove but their stove isn't corn capable, only wood pellets so as much as I'd be willing to supply them, I cannot.
 
  • Like
Reactions: monteville

zrock

Minister of Fire
Dec 2, 2017
1,159
bc
It would take constant turning and take a year or 2 to dry out to the point of being able to burn... Wood chips absorb moisture in the air and ground. That's why the pellet mill has so many dryers running to get the moisture out... Not to mention you would have to get them to a small consistency to fit in the auger. I don't know of any pellet stove augers that could shear a wood chip without jamming.
 

SidecarFlip

Minister of Fire
Feb 7, 2010
5,273
S.E. Michigan
It would take constant turning and take a year or 2 to dry out to the point of being able to burn... Wood chips absorb moisture in the air and ground. That's why the pellet mill has so many dryers running to get the moisture out... Not to mention you would have to get them to a small consistency to fit in the auger. I don't know of any pellet stove augers that could shear a wood chip without jamming.
Neither do I. You'd have to custom build an auger to feed them (like the augers in the Hurst bio mass boiler in my signature picture. In fact the feed augers in the Hurst would only take wood chips so large and they would jam so there was what is called a clarifier up stream from the augers that rejected any chips tooo large to feed reliably.

Far as spreading out chips and letting them dry naturally, that won't work either because between the morning dew and rain event, all they would do is get moldy.
 

monteville

Member
Nov 23, 2019
152
Dallas
If anyone lives close, I'd be happy to share. I usually have way more than I need. I have a large barn where I store them inside and out of the weather. If anyone wants some, let me know. You will need at least a 1 ton pickup truck and I have a forklift to load them. You will have to destroy the empty bags as they are marked with lot numbers and machine sealed and not recyclable.

Folks across the road have a bio mass stove but their stove isn't corn capable, only wood pellets so as much as I'd be willing to supply them, I cannot.
You are so generous. If you have so much, why don't you feed this corn to raise more livestock, and burn animal manure for heat? Cow , horse and sheep poo are known to be good fuel. If you can dry corn, you can dry feces, right?
 

SidecarFlip

Minister of Fire
Feb 7, 2010
5,273
S.E. Michigan
Sold all the cattle this last spring. Don't need the grief associated with animal husbandry and don't have the time anyway. If you have livestock, it's a 24-7-365 job which I don't expect you to understand anyway because you aren't a farmer. I'm 100% good with the way it is presently.....and I much prefer buying my beef already butchered and packaged frozen for the deep freeze.

I don't 'dry' corn. It comes to me already dried. Besides, drying corn depletes another fuel, propane or NG and that has to be paid for as well.

You have no idea of what is involved in farming, pretty obvious from your comments.

I guess you could dry and burn your own feces too if it blows your dress up. Sounds to me like it would be the ultimate recycle, why don't you give it a whirl.
 
  • Like
Reactions: FirepotPete

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
6,621
Northern NH
Black liquor doesnt need to be full of sulfur. It could be cleaned up of the TRS compounds but its far to valuable to the pulping process to be sold off. The mill I worked for would gladly help out any mill with an excess of black liquor as we got the valuable heat out of the deal and it cut down on our makeup chemical use before we sent them back green liquor. We did run for a few months while replacing a recovery boiler where we did liquor swaps (black for green or white ) with other mills but it was not a matter of choice as we were replacing the recovery boiler. The TRS compounds usually get boiled off the liquor in the evaporator cycle. Every so often we would have leak on our concentrator piping and the liquid that squirted out froze into stalagmites looking like brown glass with no odor. The TRS streams coming out of the evaporator process were loaded with TRS and we had to collect it and burn it then scrub it. Alcohol Solvent pulping was trialed in a few spots like the long gone Miramachi NB mill, they reportedly did not have TRS emissions and produced valuable byproducts but they could not match the pulp price of a well run Kraft mill.

Zilkha Energy has their Black Pellets which do away with chemical separation of liquid, https://nextgenbiomass.com/solutions/zilkha-black-pellets/ this cuts way down on complexity by removing the chemical process. They still have to deal with VOCs but a lot less hassle than "stinky" TRS compounds formed in the sulfate Kraft process. They saturate the dried sawdust with high pressure steam and loosen up the lignin then extrude it into pellets after depressurizing it rapidly. Do it right and the lignin in the wood travels to the outer diameter of the pellet and then cools into a water repellent no dust pellet. Its got higher BTU content and far easier to handle. The process is basically the same used to make Masonite, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masonite optimized for their use. Its uniform product and I expect a wood pellet boiler could be easily converted to burn them. They haven't caught on as the economics do not work, the extra cost and equipment required to make the pellets exceeds the demand from the market.
 

SidecarFlip

Minister of Fire
Feb 7, 2010
5,273
S.E. Michigan
Technology is a wonderful thing however, issues arise when the cost of technology exceeds the price of what the end product can be sold for. All about P&L and no company can survive with the loss exceeds the profit, well, except the government that is....lol
 
  • Like
Reactions: FirepotPete

tlc1976

Minister of Fire
Oct 7, 2012
904
Northwest Lower Michigan
He earlier proposed spreading them out in the yard, on the ground, in the sun.
Not as mulch, but to dry..
For a week at a time. If I lived in Dallas, I’d have the available sun to do that. Not up here.

Then again if I lived in Dallas, I wouldn’t need heat probably 90% of the time. For backup heat I’d make it a true backup like a woodstove that works when the infrastructure goes down.
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
6,621
Northern NH
This is starting to smell a bit troll-ish….just sayin
Our friend in Texas does seem to like to start threads but on this occasion its not an impractical question and thus may be of interest to the board.

Every pound of water mixed in with wood has to be converted from liquid to vapor at around 1000 Btu/lb at the temperature we are worried about. So take the dry BTU of the wood minus the BTUs used to evaporate the water and that is best theoretical heat output. Generally some excess air goes along for the ride and that has to be heated up and substracted from the theoretical. At that point its just getting complete combustion which is over 1800 degrees F (lower with a catalyst). Messing with air by preheating it and splitting it into different introduction points generally reduces excess air and gets to the proper temp quicker. Burn too hot and the inert Nitrogen in air starts to "burn" from N2 to NOX unfortunately that reaction absorbs heat. Burn too cold and CO is formed which is unburnt gas going up the stack and into the air. Along for the ride up the stack is water vapor and various condensable liquids that form creosote as the vapors condense as the stack get colder.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Washed-Up

SidecarFlip

Minister of Fire
Feb 7, 2010
5,273
S.E. Michigan
  • Like
Reactions: Washed-Up

Ocelot

Member
Dec 27, 2010
88
Hudson Valley, NY
Fuel oil would have to be a lot cheaper than it's been, or even a year ago when it was low, for it not be cheaper for me than pellets. Some of it is regional, where I live, oil is always more than it is in some other parts of the country. Another thing is individual usage, type of house, furnace, etc. My forced air furnace heats our whole small house. I can heat just the main area we are in the most to a much warmer comfort level with the pellet stove for cheaper than heating the whole house even if the cost per BTU were equal. As far as environment, things that grow such as wood, corn, etc, are replenishable, unlike fossil fuels. Where I live the only heat option other than burning something at my house such as wood, fuel oil, or propane, would be electric heat and that would cost a fortune.
 
  • Like
Reactions: tlc1976

SidecarFlip

Minister of Fire
Feb 7, 2010
5,273
S.E. Michigan
Fuel oil would have to be a lot cheaper than it's been, or even a year ago when it was low, for it not be cheaper for me than pellets. Some of it is regional, where I live, oil is always more than it is in some other parts of the country. Another thing is individual usage, type of house, furnace, etc. My forced air furnace heats our whole small house. I can heat just the main area we are in the most to a much warmer comfort level with the pellet stove for cheaper than heating the whole house even if the cost per BTU were equal. As far as environment, things that grow such as wood, corn, etc, are replenishable, unlike fossil fuels. Where I live the only heat option other than burning something at my house such as wood, fuel oil, or propane, would be electric heat and that would cost a fortune.
Resistance heating (electric) has always been very expensive. My buddy has a water furnace but it has resistance back up on it and believe me, he uses that aspect very carefully.
 

tlc1976

Minister of Fire
Oct 7, 2012
904
Northwest Lower Michigan
Fuel oil would have to be a lot cheaper than it's been, or even a year ago when it was low, for it not be cheaper for me than pellets. Some of it is regional, where I live, oil is always more than it is in some other parts of the country. Another thing is individual usage, type of house, furnace, etc. My forced air furnace heats our whole small house. I can heat just the main area we are in the most to a much warmer comfort level with the pellet stove for cheaper than heating the whole house even if the cost per BTU were equal. As far as environment, things that grow such as wood, corn, etc, are replenishable, unlike fossil fuels. Where I live the only heat option other than burning something at my house such as wood, fuel oil, or propane, would be electric heat and that would cost a fortune.
Same here. Even if the cost was equal, I can heat only the living space with the pellets. My 1985 propane boiler heats the unfinished basement too, and I’m sure it’s not the most efficient device by far. I would also have to refill the tank at mid winter prices, I currently fill it every 2 years in summer. I’m best off to keep it on standby during winter and completely shut down in summer.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Ocelot

zrock

Minister of Fire
Dec 2, 2017
1,159
bc
never seen anyone get pissy over having to burn pellets before....LOL... easy solution don't burn pellets not need to get pissy when people are giving you logical information as to why the alternatives will not work...
 

SidecarFlip

Minister of Fire
Feb 7, 2010
5,273
S.E. Michigan
Only 2 things pizz me off. Paying real estate taxes and my wife nagging me. Everything else is fixable.
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
1,999
Long Island NY
Only 2 things pizz me off. Paying real estate taxes and my wife nagging me. Everything else is fixable.

The second listed item is fixable too ... Though it gets harder after a number of decades...
 
  • Like
Reactions: SidecarFlip

mtnbiker727

Burning Hunk
Mar 11, 2019
185
PA
Boy, I haven't checked in for a week and missed all this excitement!

I have a chart in my desk at work that compares prices of all the fuel types. You slide the slider to the price of one of them, and it shows what the equivalent price would be for each fuel type (based on average BTUs). I checked based on the propane price my coworker got, and wood pellets would have to be something like $350 per ton to match it. Since I bought mine for $260 a ton, I'm $90 ahead for each ton I buy. Now my stove cost a lot, so it'll take me a while to pay that off with the savings, but I don't feel guilty keeping it warm and toasty (and my wife loves it too) because I know I have cheap heat.
 
  • Like
Reactions: SidecarFlip

mtnbiker727

Burning Hunk
Mar 11, 2019
185
PA
As for wood chips goes: aside from the purchasing, transporting, and drying issues everyone else mentioned..... where do you store a dump truck load of wood chips? Do you build a shed and then shovel it into your stove like an old coal stove? What do you do with all the dirt and rocks that went through the chipper but won't burn in your stove?
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
1,999
Long Island NY
Boy, I haven't checked in for a week and missed all this excitement!


Lol, I read "all this excrement" - see the new thread with one more wood pellet replacement proposal...
 
  • Like
Reactions: Washed-Up

SidecarFlip

Minister of Fire
Feb 7, 2010
5,273
S.E. Michigan
Boy, I haven't checked in for a week and missed all this excitement!

I have a chart in my desk at work that compares prices of all the fuel types. You slide the slider to the price of one of them, and it shows what the equivalent price would be for each fuel type (based on average BTUs). I checked based on the propane price my coworker got, and wood pellets would have to be something like $350 per ton to match it. Since I bought mine for $260 a ton, I'm $90 ahead for each ton I buy. Now my stove cost a lot, so it'll take me a while to pay that off with the savings, but I don't feel guilty keeping it warm and toasty (and my wife loves it too) because I know I have cheap heat.
Called ROI or return on investment. In my case my stove has paid for itself 10 times over so I don't feel bad about replacing the venting next year at all. Everything wears out eventually, even us.

I wore out one stove (Englander) before I got this one, just got tired of replacing components, besides I wanted a stove that was corn capable and had an ash drawer and actually was user programmable. My old Englander was also a negative draft unit so there was always the constant chance of burn back into the hopper so the lid had to be kept tightly closed at all times. Had one smoky burn back, one time was more than enough.

I do find it interesting how much they have increased in price since I bought mine. Still have the original sales receipt from when I bought it. Was 1300 bucks. Same unit today (they still make them) is $2900 bucks retail.
 

Watcher1

Burning Hunk
Sep 11, 2014
159
Ironton WI
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'm getting 4 totes of old seed corn for the shop!
 
  • Like
Reactions: SidecarFlip

SidecarFlip

Minister of Fire
Feb 7, 2010
5,273
S.E. Michigan
Good deal. Don't knw what kind of appliance you have (corn capable or not) but, I'd mix it 66 percent pellets to 33 percent corn. keeps the clinkers manageable and don't worry if some of it is moldy, moldy corn burns too.

End of season. switch to straight pellets for a few weeks to drive off any accumulated nitric in the stove or venting. The residual nitric will eat up your stove and the venting.