Wood Pellets Are Big Business

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rona

Minister of Fire
Apr 2, 2008
1,033
southwestern Minn
The very fact that it's quite possible to pelletize such things as yard waste and lawn clippings will make units like the Buskirk and the Chinese imports attractive. Someone like me sho can produce yearly, tons of straw can, with the proper equipment, produce pellets to heat all winter with, without relying on a store to have them. Its' still the equipment cost however. The absolutely cheapest hammermill/extruder setup I've seen is almost 5 grand and thats a questionable quality Chinese unit. Thats a lot of jack to make pellets (for an individual homeowner).
We had a company make pellets using a combination of corn stalks, soybean stubble and dried DDGs for the local ethanol plant. They bought the DDG from the ethanol plant but got the rest of the material free. These pellets were made locally at a company that was making feed pellets. They were about a dollar a bag higher then Indecks at the time and they had a lot more ash then the Indecks. They were available for approx. 3 seasons then I never seen them again. I know they were experimenting trying to get a blend that would provide good heat and less ash but evidently people didn't feel like spending a extra dollar a bag and have to contend with the ash problem.
If you get 2/3 of the raw material free and have to charge a extra dollar a bag over your competitors price and still end up with a poorer end product the hand writing is on the wall.
 

SidecarFlip

Minister of Fire
Feb 7, 2010
5,273
S.E. Michigan
Something I'd look at if I was younger and wasn't investeelsewhere. I'm too old feeble to start another business venture at this point. Time to relax a bit.
 

SidecarFlip

Minister of Fire
Feb 7, 2010
5,273
S.E. Michigan
We had a company make pellets using a combination of corn stalks, soybean stubble and dried DDGs for the local ethanol plant. They bought the DDG from the ethanol plant but got the rest of the material free. These pellets were made locally at a company that was making feed pellets. They were about a dollar a bag higher then Indecks at the time and they had a lot more ash then the Indecks. They were available for approx. 3 seasons then I never seen them again. I know they were experimenting trying to get a blend that would provide good heat and less ash but evidently people didn't feel like spending a extra dollar a bag and have to contend with the ash problem.
If you get 2/3 of the raw material free and have to charge a extra dollar a bag over your competitors price and still end up with a poorer end product the hand writing is on the wall.

Absolutely. To market anything, it either has to be a better mousetrap or a cheaper mousrtrap. I learned that long ago. The public in general is more fickle than any blonde.:)
 

bogieb

Minister of Fire
Oct 31, 2014
3,078
South Central NH
There was a complete pellet plant for sale up your way, I saw it on a machinery auction site a while back. All machinery but no real estate. Think it was in New Hampshire.

I believe you are right - but you have to move everything of the site and I believe that it also said you had to prove you had the permits and means to move it.
 

SidecarFlip

Minister of Fire
Feb 7, 2010
5,273
S.E. Michigan
Permits and means are a phone call to a qualified rigger and transportation company, they do the grunt work and secure the permits, you open your wallet.....

I've move a lot of oversize loads for the company I work for part time. It's always expensive and it's always time consuming. Glad I get paid for and paying for it.
 

Pete Zahria

Minister of Fire
Jan 6, 2014
1,234
New Hampster
mcmanusfuels.com
On burning more expensive corn...
Maybe out east like where you reside 'New Hampster'...it is but it isn't in the midwest not the south nor the west. Corn isn't a popular ag crop oiut your way but it is here. Looks to me like living out east you are at a disadvantage fuel wise.

The comment was for the person who mentioned that corn was more expensive than Pellets..
I know it is cheaper where there is an abundance of it..
I just could not understand why one would want to burn it, when it is more...

As for the Northeast, in general... you are dead on. Our fuel costs are much higher
than most areas... and when there are shortages, it's even worse...

Dan
 

ScotL

Feeling the Heat
Feb 7, 2011
376
Central Maine
... Smaller extruders that operate on the 'sgueeze through a die pate' method are much more economical but the feedstock must still be 'homoginized' (hammer milled) and be wet (damp) (just like a ring extruder)...

I've seen this slight misconception a few times. The material actually needs to be dried before it's pelletized. About 10% moisture is ideal. The pressure of pelletizing (up to 70,000 psi in an industrial machine) combined with the heat generated (needs to get close to 200F) will cause the lignin in the wood to bind the particles together. More moisture is also squeezed out and the hot pellet should be coming out of the pelletizers at 6.5% moisture. Then, as it's cooled, it will end up at 5% moisture. But the main point is the grinding and drying have to be done before pelletizing. Wet wood doesn't pelletize at all. You'd just get sawdust. In fact, if you want to flush out a die before shutting it down, run a bucket full of un-dried sawdust through it.
Unless someone was going to try to make their own pellets, this information is useless. But if anyone is thinking of trying it, you'll want to know the process before buying equipment.
 

SidecarFlip

Minister of Fire
Feb 7, 2010
5,273
S.E. Michigan
Been my experience in my travels around this country that once east of the DWG, everything goes up in price. The Water Gap is like the demarcation zone for gouging. The farther east you get (until your feet get wet) the worse it gets.
 
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SidecarFlip

Minister of Fire
Feb 7, 2010
5,273
S.E. Michigan
I've seen this slight misconception a few times. The material actually needs to be dried before it's pelletized. About 10% moisture is ideal. The pressure of pelletizing (up to 70,000 psi in an industrial machine) combined with the heat generated (needs to get close to 200F) will cause the lignin in the wood to bind the particles together. More moisture is also squeezed out and the hot pellet should be coming out of the pelletizers at 6 to 6.5% moisture. Then, as it's cooled, it will end up at 5% moisture. But the main point is the grinding and drying have to be done before pelletizing. Wet wood doesn't pelletize at all. You'd just get sawdust. In fact, if you want to flush out a die before shutting it down, run a bucket full of un-dried sawdust through it.
Unless someone was going to try to make their own pellets, this information is useless. But if anyone is thinking of trying it, you'll want to know the process before buying equipment.

You can pelletize damp biomass (not wet). Damp hammermills easier than bone dry in my experience (I own a hammermill btw)....for feed not pellets, but the principle is the same, milling through a fixed orfice screen.

I'll stick with corn if pellets get stupid anyway. No processing needed except combining and (drying sometimes).
 

bogieb

Minister of Fire
Oct 31, 2014
3,078
South Central NH
On burning more expensive corn...


The comment was for the person who mentioned that corn was more expensive than Pellets..
I know it is cheaper where there is an abundance of it..
I just could not understand why one would want to burn it, when it is more...

As for the Northeast, in general... you are dead on. Our fuel costs are much higher
than most areas... and when there are shortages, it's even worse...

Dan

I said I would like to "try" it - but won't because it is more. Just like I would like to try Somersets, but can't get ahold of them (and wouldn't pay $8/bag like someone just did even if I could get ahold of them).

Just want to tinker with the stove because others seem to have so much fun at it.
 

Old Spartan

Burning Hunk
Jan 6, 2015
178
Upstate New York
Been my experience in my travels around this country that once east of the DWG, everything goes up in price. The Water Gap is like the demarcation zone for gouging. The farther east you get (until your feet get wet) the worse it gets.

I have lived on both sides and have family on both sides.

Generalizations out of any context are misleading. The cost of living goes hand in hand with the income derived from making a living sans taxes for the most part. Because of State local taxes the far east and far west are generally (there is that word) more costly. In between, not considering urban areas, it is often cheaper for basics but the income levels are also less.

In other words --- Rural Michigan is not much different cost wise from rural New York (yes there is a rural New York). Some perhaps but not so much as most would notice within a given setting.

However -- TAXES are the great unequalizer.

As for corn fuel. It is quite plentiful in area of NY where I live, also in Northeast Vermont I would guess I used to make fuel out of beets in the late 70's before ethyl became vogue.
 

SidecarFlip

Minister of Fire
Feb 7, 2010
5,273
S.E. Michigan
I said I would like to "try" it - but won't because it is more. Just like I would like to try Somersets, but can't get ahold of them (and wouldn't pay $8/bag like someone just did even if I could get ahold of them).

Just want to tinker with the stove because others seem to have so much fun at it.

Pellets seem almost regional in supply. Some of the brands used in the east, I've never seen around here.
 

SidecarFlip

Minister of Fire
Feb 7, 2010
5,273
S.E. Michigan
I have lived on both sides and have family on both sides.

Generalizations out of any context are misleading. The cost of living goes hand in hand with the income derived from making a living sans taxes for the most part. Because of State local taxes the far east and far west are generally (there is that word) more costly. In between, not considering urban areas, it is often cheaper for basics but the income levels are also less.

In other words --- Rural Michigan is not much different cost wise from rural New York (yes there is a rural New York). Some perhaps but not so much as most would notice within a given setting.

However -- TAXES are the great unequalizer.

As for corn fuel. It is quite plentiful in area of NY where I live, also in Northeast Vermont I would guess I used to make fuel out of beets in the late 70's before ethyl became vogue.

I agree with your premise. It alsways appeared to me that east of the gap, hard goods cost more. Far as corn, I have to take your word on that. I don't follow ag trends in the east at all.
 
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