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How to Make Wood Pellets Step by Step

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If you’re keen on making wood pellets, this article is a great starting point. We’ll cover everything you need to know to get started.

Wood pellets are typically produced in large quantities by pellet mills, using materials like corn husks, farm waste, and wood. But we’ll focus on how to make pellets from wood. The same principles apply to other organic materials, too.

First, you need to reduce the raw wood material into small pieces. Then, you use a die—a funnel-shaped pellet compressor—to squeeze the pieces into dense pellets. The shape of the die is key. As the material is pressed deeper, the diameter gets smaller, making the pellets denser.

The friction from this process generates heat, which melts the lignin in the wood. Lignin is a natural compound found in wood and other fibrous materials. Once the pellets come out of the die, they cool down. As they cool, the lignin solidifies, binding the material together tightly to form strong, solid pellets.

Large industrial pellet plants have traditionally produced most pellets. But recently, more people are making pellets at home or as small businesses. If you’re one of those people, the steps below are for you.(Related article:3-tips-about-making-wood-pellets

How to Make Wood Pellets Step by Step

1.Reducing the Wood Size

Start by gathering the wood you’ll use and chopping it into smaller pieces, but avoid turning it into sawdust. Use a wood chipper or hammer mill to break down the material to pieces no larger than an inch. This ensures they’ll fit through the pellet mill’s die. If your wood is already smaller than an inch or in sawdust form, you can skip this step.

2.Transporting the Material

Once the wood is chopped, you’ll need to move it to the drying area. The best way to do this is with conveyor belts or screw feeders.

3.Drying the Wood

Heat the wood to dry it out. The ideal moisture content is 10-20%. Completely dry wood won’t make the best pellets, so it’s essential to maintain the right moisture balance. Use a dryer for this step. Note: Heating with pellets to produce the necessary heat can help reduce costs.

4.Mixing the Batch

To ensure consistent, high-quality pellets, it’s crucial to have a uniform batch. If your wood already has a consistent moisture and density, you can skip this step. Otherwise, feed it through a mixer to achieve uniformity.

5.Conditioning the Material

Like in the mixing step, some woods might need extra help to stick together. This is especially true for those with low lignin content. Additives like cooking fat can improve the sticking power. Also, if the wood gets too dry during heating, you can add moisture back in. Woods that require more heat may need to be heated before pelletizing to ensure consistent results.

6.Forming the Pellets

To create the pellets, a die and roller are used in a compression process. The die is a metal plate with holes punched through it. The roller presses the conditioned wood material through these holes, forming the pellets. The dies can be flat or round, depending on the desired pellet shape.

7.Sorting the Pellets

After pressing, some pellets may not have formed correctly. To ensure quality, these imperfect pellets need to be sorted out. This is done by shaking or passing them through a sieve to separate the desired pellets from the broken or misshapen ones.

8.Cooling the Pellets

Freshly pressed pellets are hot and still contain some moisture. To ensure stability and durability, they need to be cooled and dried. Spreading them out allows for natural air cooling, but for faster results, a pellet cooler can be used.

9.Transporting the Pellets

Once cooled, the pellets are ready for bagging and storage. They are transported using bucket elevators or other suitable conveyors to the packaging area.

10.Packaging and Storage

This is the final step in the pellet-making process. The pellets are packaged in plastic bags or other suitable containers for storage or transportation to customers. It’s important to store them in a dry, well-ventilated area to prevent moisture damage.

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