What are wood pellets?
Wood pellets are one of the biofuels made from compacted sawdust or compressed wood fiber. They are the most common type of pellet fuels which can be used as an alternative for firewood, charcoal, oil and gas in heating, cooking, and power plants.
This cylindrical-shaped biomass has dominated parts of the world like the united kingdom, Germany, the Republic of Korea, Brazil, and many other countries in the world with a global market size estimate of $8.23 billion in 2021 and is also expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 5.5% from 2022 to 2030. These stats alone show how essential wood pellets are.
If you’re unsure of how wood pellets are made, their uses, and their benefits, then stick to this article.
How wood pellets are made.
Wood pellets are created from wood fiber/ sawdust, pine and oak trees are considered the best for the job due to their cheapness and strength. Manufacturers extract moisture from the wood fiber and then grind the fiber into dust. After that, the dust will be dried and carefully compressed into tiny cylinders (most preferably hammer mills with a 6 – 8 mm diameter, and a length of about 40mm).
Heating will take place while this process goes on which results in lignin ( a natural polymer found in wood) that'll act as a piece of gum to hold the tiny compressed particles together.
After going through these processes, the end product will be a highly compressed and dry high energy value product, which can be easily managed and transported over far distances.
Uses of wood pellets.
Wood pellets are mostly used in three areas; heat supply, power generation, and industrial purposes.
Wood pellets are used in many homes across the world. They are used in pellet heating stoves and furnaces. Most pellet-burning stoves have storage bins/ hoppers and thermostatically controlled augers that automatically push pellets into the fire. These stoves can also connect with boilers, pipes, and heating radiators to build a healthy heating system at your place of residence.
Wood pellets are classified as a form of renewable energy. It has a high heat value and causes little pollution. When burned, it can serve as fuel in electric power plants to power businesses and companies
For industrial purposes.
Wood pellets serve as an alternative to coal and natural gas in industrial boilers. Other fuels most times face the trouble of pollution and high cost. They also can be used in the production of paper and plastic.
Advantages of wood pellets.
Unlike natural gas, wood pellets can save you a really good amount of fuel. This is because they do not rely on extrinsic factors like fossil fuels. Statistics show that a ton of pellets is equal to 120 gallons of heating oil. Wood pellets stoves are also cheaper and easier to install than other varieties of heaters.
So, it is the combination of effective heating systems and low fuel costs that makes the use of wood pellets so economical.
Another significant advantage of wood pellets is the fact that they are renewable. This is because their raw materials (wood shavings and sawdust) are renewable.
Wood pellet heating systems have proven to be comfortable and easy to use over the years. This is because a wood pellet heater automatically controls, ignites, de-ash, and cleans its boiler automatically. This leaves the user with just emptying the ash box a maximum of two times per heating season.
Wood pellet stoves can also provide consistent heating for about three days when filled with wood pellets.
Wood pellets provide low emissions that are harmful to the environment. Statistics from the environmental protection agency (EPA) states that the emission of carbon dioxide is reduced by approximately 1.5 tons at every ton of wood pellets burned.
Disadvantages of wood pellets.
Everything that has advantages also has disadvantages. This saying does not change in the case of wood pellets. Below are some of the disadvantages of wood pellets:
- Wood pellets and some of their components rely on electricity to function. Though the amount of electricity they consume is low, a user might be stranded in a case of power outrage.
- Wood pellet stoves are expensive to maintain.
- Necessity to clean ash.