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Purchasing a pellet mill is actually a very small part of been able to produce wood or biomass pellets. In fact at PelHeat we have to help many consumers who have purchased pellet mills from resellers and retailers, without any support of actually how to use the pellet mill. On the face of it making pellets in a pellet mill may seem very straight forward, you put wood or biomass in the pellet mill and pellets come out the other end. Well, the reality could not be further from the truth, as quality wood and biomass pellet compression relies on a combination of principles, from material preparation to proper pellet mill operation and maintenance. However, it is still possible for even the average homeowner to own and operate their own pellet mill, as with every process, its just about knowing what you have to do and when.
Changes in Raw Material Particle Size: Before pellet compression in the pellet mill can take place, the wood, straw, grass or any other form of biomass must be reduced in size. One fact that is not widely stated, however is one of the most important facts in pellet production is "Only a raw material of consistent quality can produce consistent quality pellets". Part of this consistency is the size of raw material particles used in the pellet mill. Particles, which are too small or too large, can severally affect pellet quality.
Changes in Raw Material Moisture Content, Pellet Quality and Production Rates: One of the reasons pellet fuel is so popular, is pellets have a moisture content below 10%, and this enables the pellets to burn very efficiently, and produce virtually no smoke during combustion. Pellet production is a high temperature process; the right moisture content will produce the best quality pellets, reduce energy consumption and reduce pellet mill downtime.
Changes in Raw Material Composition and The Inclusion of Binders and Lubricants: In pellet production every raw material behaves differently, and some materials produce quality pellets easier than others. Depending on the equipment used, the composition of the raw material may need to be changed to produce a quality pellets at a reasonable productivity. Changing the composition can include adjusting particle size or moisture content, however it may also include adding binders and lubricants to help produce higher quality fuel pellets.
Changes in Raw Material Pellet Mill Feed Rate: Another adjustment that is not well known to impact on pellet production is the rate of feed into the pellet mill. Adjustments on feed rate, and maintaining a consistent feed rate can make the key difference on how well the pellet mill operates, even if the raw material is perfect.
Changes in Raw Material Conditioning and Steam: Conditioning is the pre-treatment of the raw material before it reaches the pellet mill. Conditioning can include specific mixing techniques and the introduction of additional water or steam. Steam can be used to pre-anneal the raw material and start the lignin melting process. Though conditioning can have several benefits, in some cases the benefits are negligible and in other cases it is simply not practical to use conditioning.
Changes in Pellet Mill Operating Temperatures: Temperature is a key requirement in pellet production. Unless a certain temperature is reached in the pellet mill natural lignin will not melt, and it is not possible to produce some biomass pellets, for example wood pellets. However, if the temperature is too high this can damage the pellet mill, and particular consumables such as the pellet mill die, rollers, bearings and seals.
Changes in Pellet Mill Roller and Die Clearance: Another adjustment, which can impact heavily on how successfully, the pellet mill operates, is the distance between the rollers and die template. The roller and die are wearing consumable parts, due to the abrasive nature and pressure of compression. The distance set between the roller and die can impact on how much energy the pellet mill uses, the quality of the pellet, pellet mill productivity and the amount of fines produced. Correctly setting up the die on a pellet mill will also increase the life of the roller and die, and reduce the cost of parts.
Changes in Pellet Mill Die Template Rotation Speed: The speeds at which the roller and die turn affect the complex relationships during pellet compression. Some materials require a greater time under compression, and therefore require a slower rotation speed. Also, speed and torque requirement of the pellet mill change.
Changes in Pellet Mill Die Design and Metal Used: Many different forms of metal alloy are used to produce pellet mill die templates. Different metal alloys have specific advantages and disadvantages. Using the correct alloy is critical to reduce wear and increase production.
The PelHeat Wood Pellet Guide Covers The 10 Steps Of Pellet Production
As you can see from the above information, there is a lot more to making pellets than simply dropping material into a pellet mill. For this reason we produced the Wood Pellet Production Guide to help consumers learn the steps to produce quality pellets from a range of wood and biomass materials. The Guide is broken down into ten steps, as you can see blow
STEP 1: Raw Material Size Reduction and Particle Size and Its Importance
STEP 2: Process Raw Material Transportation, including Screw Conveyors etc
STEP 3: Raw Material Moisture Requirements and Drying Equipment
STEP 4: Raw Material Mixing with Binders and Lubricants, and When To Use Them
STEP 5: Raw Material Conditioning and Steam Treatment, Where and Where Not Practical
STEP 6: Pellet Compression and Different Pellet Mill Designs Advantages and Disadvantages
STEP 7: Pellet Sieving and Required Pellet Fines Removal To Maintain Efficient Combustion
STEP 8: Pellet Cooling to Ambient Air Temperature, and The Importance of Pellet Cooling
STEP 9: Post Cooling Pellet Transportation, How To Move Pellets With Damaging Them
STEP 10: Finished Pellet Bagging and Storage To Protect From Moisture and Damage
The FREE PelHeat Consultation Service: However, at PelHeat we also realize that no guide can possibly answer all questions you may have on making pellets. For example you may have a unique set of objectives or limitations, which you need help with. You may have sourced a pellet mill and need help on how to use it etc. You could also require help purchasing equipment at the best prices possible. Well, as a customer of the guide you will have exclusive access to be able to ask the PelHeat team your questions on anything pellet.
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