Does it make money to produce and sell lignite pellets?

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monteville

Member
Nov 23, 2019
118
Dallas
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Lignite, also called brown coal, is a fossil fuel that have similar HHV with wood pellets.
There exists surface lignite mines in multiple states that is struggling because the nearby lignite power plant is closing.

Does it make money to make lignite pellets, just like wood pellets, for marketing to pellet stove users?

The pro is cost. Lignite sells for less than $10/ton at the mining site, and low density lignite saves the cost of shredding.
In my estimate, lignite pellets could sell for $30/ton from the mining site, saves lota money than $200/ton wood pellets.

The con is ash content. Lignite typically have 6-19% ash content, compared to 2% of wood pellets, so the users need to dump ash more often than wood pellets.
 

ABMax24

Minister of Fire
Sep 18, 2019
1,066
Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada
No for a multitude of reasons:

1. Goes against the incoming administrations carbon reduction goals
2. No stove owner want to clean ash multiple times per day
3. Delivered to consumer costs will be higher than $30/ton, I'd bet $75 or more
4. Are any pellets stoves actually rated to burn lignite? How about the exhaust gas venting system? This poses huge liability concerns.
 

monteville

Member
Nov 23, 2019
118
Dallas
No for a multitude of reasons:

1. Goes against the incoming administrations carbon reduction goals
2. No stove owner want to clean ash multiple times per day
3. Delivered to consumer costs will be higher than $30/ton, I'd bet $75 or more
4. Are any pellets stoves actually rated to burn lignite? How about the exhaust gas venting system? This poses huge liability concerns.
Carbon reduction goals matter to the power plants, not residential heating. I doubt residential heating will be carbon taxed in the near future.
HHV is similar, $75 or more is still huge savings compared to $200/ton wood pellets. Lignite is in the middle between biomass and coal.
 
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ABMax24

Minister of Fire
Sep 18, 2019
1,066
Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada
Carbon reduction goals matter to the power plants, not residential heating. I doubt residential heating will be carbon taxed in the near future.
HHV is similar, $75 or more is still huge savings compared to $200/ton wood pellets. Lignite is in the middle between biomass and coal.

All it takes is a change is political policy to flip that on its head, and the incoming administration will likely be the ones to do it.

I've been paying a carbon tax for almost 4 years now. It applies to anything of fossil origin regardless of use, I see no reason why the US won't have the same implemented within the next 10 years.
 
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Oldmanwinter

New Member
Nov 14, 2020
5
ClassicBay1200
Sounds great until I got to the storage and spontaneous combustion part. Lol

 
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peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
6,470
Northern NH
Not sure on lignite but many coals have pretty toxic ash, unlike wood ash, it cannot be dumped in garden or on a lawn. It really has to be disposed of as "special waste" due to the potential for heavy metals. Even if that is ignored, my guess is typical pellet stove user would be unwilling to do the extra maintenance that would be required due to high ash content. As it is, many good pellet stoves get sold due to the owner not realizing that the time commitment required to keep a pellet stove running is much higher than they expected.

To me I would rather see torrified wood pellets (AKA green coal) finally get viable but to date the economics just dont work unless heavily subsidized.
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
6,470
Northern NH
Close enough. It comes down to cost the extra cost to make them does not pencil out unless fossil prices are a lot higher than they are or someone if willing to write a big subsidy check.
 

SidecarFlip

Minister of Fire
Bottom line here is, you can extrude just about anything into pellets but whether they are viable as a heat source remains to be seen. I own a pellet extruder and I've extruded various organic things and tried them withy mixed results. For me, commercially produced hardwood / softwood pellets wins hands down with medium dent field corn a close second. I've tried switchgrass, combined wheat straw, corn stalks and even dried grass clippings and none of them work well compared to the old standby.

Cherry pits suck too.

I might add that I prefer seeing wood pelletizing operations that use cull wood to make pellets versus virgin stands. Using cull wood gets rid of a hard to recycle resource for something good... keeping your butt warm.