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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


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  Make Your Own Pellets

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*    What is biomass fuel?

A renewable fuel already being produced across the USA, Canada and Europe.

A fuel already providing energy to over ONE MILLION homes, businesses and schools in North America.

Economical and sustainable energy source that continues to grow internationally.

A fuel that burns cleaner than nonrenewable fossil fuels.

A growing industry that has the potential to create many jobs, especially in rural areas, and positively boost regional economics.

A competitive, price-stable fuel that costs less than oil, propane or natural gas.

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*    What is pellet fuel?

Pellet fuel is a renewable, clean-burning and cost stable home heating alternative currently used throughout North America.  It is a biomass product made of renewable substances – generally recycled wood waste.  There are approximately 800,000 homes in the U.S. using wood pellets for heat, in freestanding stoves, fireplace inserts and even furnaces.  Pellet fuel for heating can also be found in such large-scale environments as schools and prisons.  North American pellets are produced in manufacturing facilities in Canada and the United States, and are available for purchase at fireplace dealers, nurseries, building supply stores, feed and garden supply stores and some discount merchandisers.

pellet pileIn short, pellet fuel is a way to divert millions of tons of waste from landfills and turn it into energy.  Pellet fuel for home heating can be burned in a freestanding pellet stove, fireplace insert or a furnace.  A pellet stove looks much like a wood stove, but is automated.  Heating a home with pellet fuel requires only the ability to add pellets into a hopper, set the desired heat output and provide necessary appliance maintenance, such as cleaning out an ash pan.  All other aspects of the heating process occur automatically.  Pellet stoves and fireplace inserts come in a wide range of styles, sizes and finishes.

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*    What do I need to use to make pellets?

Well to start, you need to have a supply of sawdust, or leaves, or grass, or hay, or whatever is dry enough (10-15% moisture) to make your pellets form.  It cannot be chunks, or sticks.  It must be in a sawdust or pulp form to be put into the Pellet Mill.  The largest size entering the Pellet mill should be no larger than pine shavings, and even that should be reduced whenever possible.  Why?  Because the biomass needs to be pressed through a flat die with small, (6mm for wood pellet, or 4mm for animal feed pellet), holes drilled into it.  Pressing the biomass through the die holes is what forms the pellet.  So what you put in the hopper must be small enough to go through, simple.

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*    How much can I save?

A 40lb bag of Pellets is about $6 and good for about 12 hours of burn time.  So, $12 a day.

The SS-230A can produce approximately 200 lbs of sawdust pellets an hour (5 – 40lb bags), spending approximately $.65 in diesel (1quart).

So, using the same $12 dividing by $.65 /hr for the diesel = 18.46 hrs of pelletizing run time for the same $12 above.

Then, take that 18.46 hours of pellet machine run time (which only cost $12) and multiply the 18.46 hours times the 200 lbs/hr that the machine produces gives you 3692 lbs of pellets!

That 3692 lbs of pellets divided by 40 lbs/bag gives you the equivalent of 92.30 bags of pellets, again, for just $12.

Dividing the 92.30 bags of pellets by 2 bags per day gives you the equivalent of 46.15 days of heating for $12.

92.30 bags of pellets at $6 / bag would cost $553.80, so $553.80 - $12 = $541.80 in SAVINGS!

Not a bad return on $12 bucks!

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*    Where can I get sawdust or other biomass?

If you don't have a sawmill in your backyard don't worry, you don't need one.  But you can't put wood chips into a Pellet Mill, so what's the solution?  A Hammer Mill.  Hammer Mills pulverize biomass into particles less than 1/4", which is perfect for a Pellet Mill.  If you use a Hammer Mill, you will have all the sawdust you'll ever need and be able to pulverize leaves, hay, alfalfa, pinecones, cornstalks, grass, twigs, acorns, and whatever else is lying around your yard for FREE!

While a Hammer mill is the best solution to replacing a sawmill to get you the sawdust you need, it too, can only take certain size material.  Remember:  a Hammer mill is not a wood chipper!

If wood is what you are trying to pulverize, then wood chip size is best for a Hammer mill.  If you're running hay, straw, or a dried biomass less dense than wood through your Hammer mill, then of course you can insert larger pieces into the Hammer mill.  The biomass should not be "fresh cut" or "green".  Dried wood chips are the favorite food of Hammer mills!

You can pelletize any dried biomass and burn them in your pellet stove.  People use waste paper, cardboard, corn stalks, softwood sawdust, and hardwood sawdust.  Almost any dried biomass you can think of is potentially FREE heat!  But remember, sawdust when burned leaves the least amount of ash content and, therefore, will burn best in your pellet stove, although some pellet stoves are "multi-fuel" and can burn a variety of biomass pellets.

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*    Can I use cardboard boxes and junk mail to make pellets?

Absolutely!  Talk about free fuel, throw that stuff into a Hammer mill and grind it up to a pulp, add moisture with a binder and sit by the fire!

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*    How long will it take me to make pellets?

Usually you will be able to make pellets almost right away.  You may find that you have a lot of "fines" in the beginning, or that your pellets are short and stubby, or that they don’t hold their form, but using Pellet Binder will correct that for you, and soon you will start to make more consistent uniform pellets.

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*    Can I "set it and forget it"?

No.  Pellet production requires attention by you.  You will need to prepare the raw material, (Pulverize with Hammer Mill if necessary, adjust moisture, add binder if needed, feed the raw material into the mill, re-feed the "fines" back in, dry and store the pellets.

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*    How long do I wait before I can burn my pellets?

If your producing pellets in the Spring, Summer, and Fall, like a good doobie, drying time won’t matter.  They’ll be dry by Winter.  If you are producing pellets today that you’ll need tomorrow, you will need to setup a drying bed to help air dry the pellets.  A simple rectangular bed large enough to hold them, should make them burnable within hours.  The more Air and Sun they are exposed to, of course, will speed the drying time.

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*    Why is nothing coming out of my pellet machine?

Chances are you clogged your die.  This will occur if you don’t use Pellet Binder, haven’t reamed your die, your sawdust is too dry, or if you used Wafer or particle board sawdust which contain glue that will reactivate by the heat the pellet machine generates.&  In either case, you will need to remove the die and clean it.  While you have the die removed, use a reamer to condition your die.  This will smooth the rough edges of the holes in your die.

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*    How do I produce uniform pellets?

It takes a few things to produce uniform pellets:

Moisture

Correct moisture content in your raw material is essential.  Depending on how dry your raw material is you may have to add more moisture, or reduce it if the moisture is too high.  Each biomass is different and sawdust pelletizes best at around 10%-15% moisture.  If you have a “Moisture Tester” your all set.  If not, buy one.  It’s well worth the money.

Binder

The next thing to do is to add a “Binder”.  A binder is what holds the pellet together.  It also acts like a lubricant during the pelleting process.  During pelleting, heat will be generated which seals the binder and sawdust together, causing a hard-shell pellet to form.

We prefer to use a “Wood Pellet Binder”, which is specially formulated for smaller, residential Pellet mills.  It is in powder form, shipped in a 50/lb bag which will make @1 ton of wood pellets!  Make Your Own Pellets, LLC, exclusively recommends using this product, since it is easy to store, adds no additional ash content when burned, and is all natural.  And since smaller residential mills do not use steam injection, they cannot produce the heat that the larger plants do, our wood pellet binder activates in the heat range our smaller mills require.  Order it!

Mix the binder and sawdust together prior to putting them in the pellet mill.

Heat

You will see steam rise from you mill, don’t be alarmed!  This is normal.  You do want to “seal in” that loss of heat though.  Add more mixture to you hopper so that it prevents the steam from escaping.  The pellets will come out extremely hot to the touch, usually over 180 degrees.  They will need to cool and dry prior to use.

When your Pellet mill is producing hard pellets, it will start to bog down your diesel.  This is actually good.  This is where you’ll make the best pellets.  Make sure you increase your rpms’ to compensate for this.

Drying

Since most pellet stove require fuel to be >8% moisture, your new pellets will need to dry before use.  Simple flatbed, open air drying, is sufficient and your pellets should be ready in a few hours.  Use a moisture tester to test the moisture content of your pellets.  The dryer they are, the more heat will be produced.

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*    What if I need a binder?

Use Pellet Binder™, easily stored, safe, all natural, and inexpensive.  It costs $64.75 delivered to your door!  Now that’s cheap!  Available only through this website.  We are the EXCLUSIVE distributor of Pellet Binder™ for small production mills.

The question is, are you prepared to make 440lbs of pellets an hour?  Production capacity is a mathematical formula based on power (HP), the diameter size of the die , how many and what size holes are in it, the RPM’s of the die and how resistant the biomass is that you put into it.  To maximize the production capacity of the Pellet Mill, you must have your raw material ready to pelletize, moisture content correct, storage and drying area ready to go, and be able to feed the mill while it operates.

We suggest that you produce pellets in smaller batches at first until you get the knack of it.  There’s a lot more to produce pellets than just buying a Pellet Mill.

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*    My pellets are mixing with my "fines", what can I do?

"Fines" are simply unpelletized particles that come out the chute with the pellets.  You may want to use a 1/8 or 1/4 inch mesh wire attached at the end of your chute to allow "fines" to fall through while formed pellets "roll" down the mesh into your container.  6 to 8 inches in length should do it.

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*    How long will the die and rollers last?

A good question.  The answer depends on how often you use the Pellet Mill and what kind of biomass you pelletize.  Constant use of 4 to 8 hours a day over a period of 6 months using sawdust will wear down the die and rollers and they may need to be replaced.  Less use of course and softer biomasses like grasses, leaves, and paper goods, could mean the die and rollers last well over a year.  Changing to sealed bearings in the rollers is a good idea.

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*    Can I get parts through Make Your Own Pellets?

Certainly!  Just contact us for all your pellet making needs!

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*    Can I use the pellet mill to make animal feed pellets?

Yes you can!  The process is the same, just the raw material is different.  Farm owners use Pellet Mills and grinders known as Hammer Mills to produce their own feed for their animals and you can too:  Fish pellets, Rabbit pellets, Goat pellets, whatever!

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©2013  Make Your Own Pellets, LLC |  (last updated 12-19-2013)