Burning wood pellet fuel saves large amounts on home-heating bills. Pellets are composed of compressed organic biomass products such as sawdust, lawn clippings, corn stalks, and even recycled newspapers or junk mail. Pellet stoves resemble traditional wood stoves but are more technologically advanced, having automatic hoppers and thermostatic controls. Although you can buy bags of wood pellet fuel at feed stores and other outlets, many people choose to recycle organic matter into pellets with a pellet mill at home.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Flammable organic matter
- Hammer mill
- Large boxes
- Pellet mill
Gather organic materials such as crop waste, leaves, sawdust and recycled paper for pelletising. Make sure it is clean and has no foreign matter such as pebbles or staples. Reduce it to pieces small enough to fit into the hopper of a hammer mill.
Start a hammer mill and place a large box below the exit chute. Pour the clean flammable organic matter into the hopper by handfuls or shovelfuls. The shredded matter will come out of the chute into the box.
Ensure the flammable material is dry. However, it will need some moisture to make good pellets. The water content should be about 10 per cent to 20 per cent.
Warm up the pellet mill before you put any shredded material into it. The metal die inside must be hot enough to make steam from the moisture in the organic matter. The steam helps distribute the naturally occurring lignin that will become the bonding agent for the pellets.
Place a large box beneath the chute of the pellet mill. Slowly pour the shredded biomass material into the pellet mill's hopper. Pellets will be ejected from the chute into the box. Allow them to cool.
Use the pellets right away or store them in a sealed bag. They should be stored inside in a dry place until they are used.
Tips and warnings
- Biomass with the correct moisture content forms pellets that are hard and shiny. If there is not enough moisture, the pellets will fall apart. If there is too much moisture, the pellets will be mushy and dull. You can add water to the biomass with a spray bottle if it is too dry just before it goes into the pellet mill hopper. Alternatively you can make a drier mixture by adding dried biomass to the moist biomass and mixing well before pelletising. If the first pellets do not turn out right, adjust moisture and feed the bad pellets back into the mill.
- Always use a dust mask and safety glasses when making your own pellets.
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