Wood pellets can be used for generating power, heating, and for cooking. Pellets burn very efficiently because of their low moisture content. You can make your own biofuel with a mini pellet plant.
How does a mini pellet plant work?
The raw material must be dried before or after crushing it with a hammer mill. There are airflow dryers or cyclonic drying systems that are used in most cases as most of the raw biomass contains over 12% moisture.
The crushing or pulverisation of the waste product from woodworking or any other raw material you will use is done with a hammer mill that can be fed via a conveyor. You can fit the hammer with a screen of a given size to obtain consistent sized wood particles. Once you have the dried sawdust particles at a uniform sized, the milled wood is ready to enter the Pellet Press. At this point binder like modified corn starch can be added.
The pellet press can be of the electric type or powered by diesel, PTO or gasoline. Once the raw material powder is fed into the machine, there is a roller and a flat die that press it. As the crushed wood travels down the pellet machine, a small amount of water vegetable oil can be added to aid the press process. This is known as the conditioner chamber.
The pellets are formed and then pushed out through a die that shapes them. A revolving knife cuts the pellets to a set length.
After the press
After they have been formed in the press, the pellets pass over a vibratory sieve to remove any fines for recycling.
At this point the quality of the pellets can be assessed for adjustments. The whole process can be operated automatically through a master control panel.
The next step is the cooling of the pellets. Biomass pellets just made out of the pellet press usually have a temperature between 80 and 100℃. They must be cooled to prevent condensation into the bags or any other type of storage. This can be done over a conveyor system fitted with fans of variable speed to lower the temperature of the pellets.
Once the pellets have been cooled down to room temperature they will be ready for storage in bulk or small bags.
Automation reduces labour costs which can make the manufacturing of pellets in a small plant a profitable business. Master control panels allow every process in the manufacturing to be aware of the other.
Productivity of the plant
With only one pellet press you can produce 250 Kg of wood pellets per hour. This can increase if you install more than one press.
The future of the industry
The demand for pellet fuels has increased in temperate regions for heating after the surge in the price of fossil fuels since 2005 and a sizable industry is emerging. The high density of the pellets permits compact storage and transportation over long distances. They can be conveniently blown from a tanker to a silo or storage bunker in a customer's premises for usage in stoves, central heating furnaces and other appliances that can be fuelled by wood pellets.
There are also other raw materials that can be used to make pellets in this way.
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