Wood pellet mill

Discussion in 'Off Grid Living' started by oil pan 4, Sep 27, 2017.


  1. oil pan 4

    oil pan 4 Monkey+++

    I have decided that the natural gas surcharge sucks.
    Time to explore other options.
    One option is wood pellet burners. A way to further expand on the wood pellet option would be to mill at least some my own wood pellet fuel out of left over saw dust, shavings, wood chips, maybe even paper, cardboard and coal.
    The only options are industrial pellet mills which cost thousands upon thousands of dollars even when used which make tons of pellets per hour and new little Chinese units.
    Has anyone used one of these machines?
     
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2017
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  2. Altoidfishfins

    Altoidfishfins Monkey+++ Site Supporter+

    No. But when living in northern Nevada I heated my house all winter with a pellet stove. A typical winter took about 1 1/4 ton of pellets that were locally purchased. Nat Gas was not available, only electric heat which was never used the entire 12 years or so of living there. Had a large addition that was left closed off and unheated except when on my days off work. Then it was heated with a wood stove.

    The pellets were about $200 / ton for Lignetics, a good hardwood slow burning low ash / low creosote pellet. Lignetics went out of business or was bought out (or otherwise became generally unavailable) so lower quality brands had to be substituted. These increased in price in just a couple of years by about 50% over what the Lignetics cost.

    Still, it was cheaper than electric heat, but created a lot of ash, klinkers and creosote (fire hazard). I left for warmer climates at about that time.

    If making your own pellets, you may want to consider what you will use for feed stock. If you have access to large amounts of sawdust, it should be from hardwood like oak. Pine will have the tendency to make a mess and may even clog the heat exchanger, or at least coat it with resin so that it will be inefficient. It certainly won't do your chimney pipe any good.
     
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2017
  3. Tully Mars

    Tully Mars Metal weldin' monkey

    I heated a couple of my homes with pellet stoves over the years. One in Washington State and two in Colorado. At that time hardwood pellets were $90.00 a ton and I would always buy 3 ton per and have leftover. The one that the ex still uses-no, I'm not bitter, why do you ask?? could burn corn as well. I ordered the different burn pot for it and it worked great. You might check into that if you're in a place where you can get corn on the cheap. Down here I get it for $30.00 per 55 gal drum to feed the deer with. If you go that route, you will need crushed oyster shell to add in to the hopper of corn every so often. It keeps everything burning clean.

    Many pellet stoves have a battery back up as an option to run the blowers and auger if power is lost. Nice to have, but if you're handy you can do that yourself pretty easy. I've run pellet stoves off and on since the mid 80's and think they are great.
     
  4. oil pan 4

    oil pan 4 Monkey+++

    My parents in Maine discovered wood pellets after 2008 when fuel oil prices went to $4 a gallon and they were looking at spending $4,000+ just on fuel oil.
    I had been saying get a pellet burner since 1999.

    I think I will start with getting a wood chipper. I don't think the pellet mills are supposed to take straight sticks and twigs.
     
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2017
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  5. Dunerunner

    Dunerunner Brewery Monkey Moderator

    In the PNW, we have a large quantity of Douglas Fir. This is without doubt the best pellet source I've run across. Very little fly ash, hot burning and I will run through 40# in three days in the early spring and fall. I burn all year and though there are days in the "Summer" that I do not, temps on the coast are around the low 50's to mid 40's in the mornings. Winter, I go through a 40# bag every day and the stove runs from the time I get up until about 6PM when it cycles off on it's thermostat. I keep the house at 68 degrees. Bags of "Bear Mountain Premium" are $5 a bag and I had been buying only when I needed pellets, but; last winter we went several days without heat because I refuse to run the electric and there was a shortage of pellets due to weather conditions and road closures. My neighbor buys them by the Ton, a much smarter approach!
     
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  6. arleigh

    arleigh Goophy monkey

    All your doing is burning ground up wood using a fan to amplify the heat , so why not just add a blower to a wood stove and burn the wood shavings from cutting fire wood, in between the log fires.
    A small 12 volt DC blower doesn't need much energy to function and with a potentiometer the speed/volume can be regulated .
    A wood stove will burn any thing combustable, with greater versatility than any others, especially if you use it to cook on .
    Currently I have a fan that pulls hot air from around the stove, directed to my bed room .
    The vortex of air flow happens to draw air from the opposite corner of the stove where the firebox and ash door are I use to regulate air in, and it seems to draw more air into the fire box ,amplifying the burn.
    Before I go to bed I re load the fire box and close off the air and turn off the fan and let it cook slowly through the night ,usually there are coals yet in the morning I restart a fire with , and the fan helps accelerate the starting.
    I plan on setting up a very small blower or a 2" or less computer fan ,using steel pipes fro the floor to the interior of the fire box ,that I can use to burn pellets or debris that don't like to burn well on its own , I have Poplar trees that are ridiculously pithy wood and the worst for burning ,but with added air and a mix of other woods they can be consumed as well.
     
  7. oil pan 4

    oil pan 4 Monkey+++

    Burning wood chips in a wood stove with a forced air would probably over fire the stove and burn out of control.
     
  8. SB21

    SB21 Monkey+++

    Just asking because , it's such a shame to lose a good wood stove. :ROFLMAO:
     
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  9. Dont

    Dont Just another old gray Jarhead Monkey Site Supporter+++


    The local Lignetics plant has not stopped producing and was still working yesterday when I drove by there. They produce the energy logs here and you can get on a list to buy a large quantity of their "seconds" at a discount. You just need to return their container back to them in a timely manor..

    I have used the energy logs to heat my home on occasion and they work really well! They burn hot and I have used less of them to heat the house than with mixed wood logs. Pellets in a regular wood stove can work for heating, just not all that well. Maybe if one used a woven heavy wire grate, the surface area exposed to burning would greatly increase the efficiency of the burning of the pellets in a regular wood stove.
     
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  10. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    Must have been local to you back then, Al. Looks like Lignetics is alive and well. Amazon peddles the pellets along with a "few" other sources. I have never used pellets, but probably would go that route if I had to go back to stoking.
     
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  11. Altoidfishfins

    Altoidfishfins Monkey+++ Site Supporter+

    Hey well that's certainly great news guys.THey made just about the best pellets we used.

    When I lived in smalltown Nevada, Lignetics pellets became unavailable after a few years. When we asked around we were told they went out of business. Maybe the local merchants were pulling some kind of stunt, which they had been known to pull shenanigans from time to time. THe town was so isolated they could get away with it.
     
  12. Altoidfishfins

    Altoidfishfins Monkey+++ Site Supporter+

    I stand corrected guys!
    Just checked with the wife and she has a much better memory than I do.

    Apparently what happened was that oil became expensive at the time and many people back east were converting to pellet stoves as an alternative. Lignetics began shipping most of their production there because they could sell it for more. That left only the lower quality brands available and the prices began to rise even for those.

    Glad to see they're still working because they were just about the best pellets we used.
     
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  13. SB21

    SB21 Monkey+++

    Here's a question for someone that may know. I've wondered if there is a way to compress chipped wood , from a wood chipper , into logs to burn in a wood stove ? Or is there a way to effectively burn this , or do you think it's practical, or just a waste of time ? I was just wondering because you can get this stuff free from just about any tree company, they'll bring it out and dump it, if they're in the area.
     
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  14. Dont

    Dont Just another old gray Jarhead Monkey Site Supporter+++

  15. Altoidfishfins

    Altoidfishfins Monkey+++ Site Supporter+

    That's a great idea.

    I'd like to find that out too. Have a lot of brush to clear and have been running the trimmings through a chipper/shredder. End up with piles of shred that I'll usually spread around at the bases of the smaller trees as a mulch. Much of it is scrub oak and manzanita - both hardwoods.

    Be great if it could be compressed, kind of like particle board, held together only by the fact that it is compressed and not glued (don't want to burn glue). Or maybe a binding agent such as a small amount of paraffin wax could be mixed in if ground to the consistency of laundry soap (in a blender from the Goodwill store).

    As an experiment, could you take a piece of say, 2" steel pipe with a removable cap at one end, pour the chips in the other end and compress them with an appropriately sized ram attached to a hand operated hydraulic press? Just thinking out loud here. Or maybe start out with the 2" pipe, attach a reducer fitting to compress everything down to 1" with the discharge end open. Hmm, marking that down as a future trial.
     
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  16. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    With out some kind of binder, it will just disinigrate into wood chips again... What you are describing is a Presto Log... if you have ever burned a GlueLam Beam scrap, you would know just how well and Hot they burn...
     
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  17. arleigh

    arleigh Goophy monkey

    Egg would work ,been used for other similar things.
    Wax would be good but I don't think they use wax ,the wood separated when wet , Wax is impervious to water. and expensive.

    If your' going to produce your own logs you might invest in a hydraulic log splitter , remove the wedge and provide a steel pipe in place and a pinned block . In stead of trying to press one whole one at a time it may have to be pressed in stages/layers .
     
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  18. SB21

    SB21 Monkey+++

    Yes, those are pretty much my same thoughts as well, binding agents, and compressing into a 4 inch pipe is what I was thinking. I saw a guy on YouTube blending up paper in water, then pouring the mixture in a type of brick form and then press the water out and let dry. I was wondering if something like this would help bind everything together. Just haven't had the chance to try it out.
     
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  19. oil pan 4

    oil pan 4 Monkey+++

    I think I will probably do this.
    I got my first piece of equipment, little electric wood chipper.
    I could bring in a bag of pecan wood chips and try to press them into a brick using the rather large 3phase powered hydraulic press at work.
    I don't know if it will work. Might as well find out.
     
    Tully Mars likes this.
  20. Tully Mars

    Tully Mars Metal weldin' monkey

    Would/should a bit of heat be added in to help with the binding? Especially if using paraffin?
     
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