Since 2012, scientific research teams have carried out experiments to make heating pellets from weeds. These pellets are utilized to produce energy for households.
When weedy grasses are used as pellet fuel, they add financial value to farms. The amount of energy released from burning pellets is 32 times more than the energy used in processing pellets.
- Pellet fuel reduces toxic gas input into the atmosphere. The scientific explanation is that burning up weeds results to a release of previous carbon dioxide gas that the plants had taken up. The carbon dioxide released is re-used by plants for respiration.
- Recurrent weeds require the least amount of energy to produce fuel pellets thus preserving carbon in the soil.
- Late harvesting of weeds conserves soil nutrients because, by the time of harvesting, the plants will have disbursed nutrients to the roots.
- Most weeds retain moisture in sandy soil and loosen up clay soil so far.
How to make pellets from weeds
Phragmites and reed canary grass are the best weeds to make fuel pellets from. You can also use cornstarch, miscanthus, switch grass and spent brewer’s grain. Phragmiteses are weeds that burn better than reed canarygrass. They have a large, hollow stalk that forms equally sized particles, after grinding.
You should collect phragmites and grind them continuously until they become small pellets. Burn them in a multi-fuel pellet stove. There will be a lot of waste ash after heating.
How farm owners can benefit and make a living from pellet fuel
Poor quality hay can be converted into weeds. Leave hay and raw materials in land that is not actively farmed to be rained on. Soon the land will be filled with weeds such as goldenrod which you can harvest to create pellets. You have the choice to sell the pellets and make money or to become an exclusive weed grower. Due to the growth of pellet market, new stoves have been designed to handle the ash content of pellet fuel.
All you have to do as a full-time weed grower is to lay grass pellets on the ground. They will absorb water and increase up to 6 times. You harvest your weeds and make money through selling a bag which retails at $4 per 40lb bag. Alternatively you can get a license to sell the pellets as fertilizer because they contain high amounts of nitrogen.
Most pelleting companies use binding ingredients such as plastics to bind the pellets. This increases the cost of pellet fuel. Clients tend to favor pellet fuel producers who sell natural products. Cornell University is researching and experimenting on how to produce pellet fuel without adding any additives using modern day technology. Their main goal is to produce pellet fuel with high pressure, speed and flow. Augers, tub grinder, hammermill, and baggers are some of the modern day equipment that are being used to produce pellet energy.
The University of Maine is also looking to produce pellet fuel from reed canarygrass and switchgrass on large scale.
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