How To Make Your Own Wood Pellet Fuel

Wood pellet fuel makes sense most when you make it yourself.

Wood pellet fuel is a low-tech, responsible approach to using biomass to produce heat and energy. Generally this pellet fuel is made from compacted sawdust but agricultural residues like grasses and straws can also be used.

Making wood pellets yourself is not hard with a little know-how, a wood pellet mill and a wood pellet stove.

Why would you burn pellet fuel?

Good question!

Human population pressures have meant huge decimation in global forest cover. Burning wood to keep warm just isn't viable, or responsible. Read on...

Its fossil fuel alternatives, oil, gas and coal are finite resources, contribute to greenhouse gas emission and increasingly costly.

Energy prices globally are rising steeply. A 100% rise over the next 10 years certainly does not seem an outlandish claim.

Why not?

Well, the combined effects of peak oil, only a handful of years off, reduced use of greenhouse gas emitting fuels, and carbon trading in the transition period from fossil to renewable fuel make big energy cost rises a certainty.

But wood pellets manufacture relies on renewable materials and waste products in the wood mill industry.

Wood pellet fuel is also very convenient on a number of scores.

1) The pellets are produced to be very dense and with a low moisture content of below 10%. These properties mean that the pellets burn with a very high combustion efficiency. In turn that means your fuel lasts longer and you get more heart from it.

2) So, if you buy your wood pellets, that means good bang for your buck. Of course, if you produce them yourself you are laughing all the way to the bank! You're off the grid and off the financial burden that your rising heating bills represent.

3) The regular shape of the pellets as well as their small size means even greater fuel efficiency as they can be automatically fed into a fire – just as much as required,and no more.

4) Being so high in density wood pellets can be stored compactly. Their transport is easy. For example they can be blown from a tanker to a storage silo.

5) Since 1999 the development of wood pellet stoves has leapt forward, on the back of rising fossil fuel prices. Wood pellet heaters, furnaces and stoves are popular in Europe, New Zealand and the US and will no doubt see wider adoption in the next few years as energy shortages and extreme weather become more dominant.

6) Rollercoaster national economies make this heating option a more attractive one when personal budgets have to be tightened.

7)The latest wood pellet heaters and boilers have a combustion efficiency of over 90%.

How is wood pellet fuel made?

First the wood residue, grass, straw or other organic material goes through a hammer mill, reducing it to fine particles. After that it is highly compressed. This biomass pulp is then squeezed by a press through a die with holes, usually in the range of 6-8mm.

The pressing process increases the heat of the pulp and causes the lignin that is a natural part of the wood to plastify. As the pellets cool they harden into compact units.

Their low water content and high density means that wood pellet fuel cause little dust and leave few ashes when burnt. A clean fuel all round...

A clean fuel? Really?

Well, wood pellets have sulphur dioxide and nitrous oxide emissions - far lower net life cycle carbon dioxide emissions than fossil fuel equivalents.

But not necessarily low CO2 emissions if you take into account all the processes, including transport, that it took to get a bag of pellets to your place.

Make them yourself and save money

And, another thing, as more people want to burn pellets, their price will go up.

The answer to those concerns is, naturally to make wood pellet fuel yourself!

Enjoy the warm fire in your wood pellet stove! Without the bills to worry about!

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