Briquetting Equipment, Designs, Videos, and other info
Here in the summer of 2016, I have commenced with regular efforts to work to produce a quality pellet from hay grown on our farm in Hammond NY. The process I've followed to this point involves the following steps:
1) Mow hay and let dry to ~12% (the point at which it is to be baled into small square bales)
Pictures of this equipment listed above that I use are shown on the Equipment Pics page on this site. Resulting pellets from the process above are shown below.
The process for briquetting hay for use in a standard wood stove is quite similar to the pelleting process outlined above, where the main differences are:
▪ Drying and Fine Grinding may not be required, or may not need to be as extensive
▪ The machine to produce briquettes is different than that for producing pellets. Three models I am considering for producing briquettes are Agico models ZBJI,
ZBJII, and ZBJIII. Details of these can be viewed at: http://www.agico.com.cn/briquette-press/briquette-press.html.
▪ Binders may not be needed since in the briquette production process, a heated die that the briquettes are forced through heats the grass enough so that the
natural lignin in the hay acts as a binder/glue that holds the briquette together
As previously mentioned, this summer I plan to set up a grass briquetting densification operation where for the short term, I will use the results to heat my swimming pool, and then in the next 1-2 years I have calculated that I can provide 50% of our homes winter heating needs with densifying 1-2 acres of hay. For this, we have all of the required farm equipment already in hand and now only need to purchase a briquetting machine/screw press to make the briquettes themselves. More updates will be posted here once we obtain a machine and begin using it.
At the moment, I have estimated that I could make 1 ton of briquettes for $150.00/ton. This estimate factors in fuel, regular supplies, required electricity, and minor equipment maintenance. This estimate does not account for payments on the briquetting machine if I end up financing its purchase.
The hay that I plan to use to make briquettes would consist of Brome grass, Reed Canary Grass, Timothy, and Switchgrass. If we use the Switchgrass that we've grown on our farm for pelleting or briquetting , the known advantages would be:
▪ Switchgrass can be pelleted without drying. Switchgrass harvested in the spring at the Belcan plant with a moisture content of 14.5% or lower did not require
▪ Grass has similar characteristics as wood for pelleting - therefore, the same mill could be used for both grass and wood pelleting
▪ Switchgrass pellets have a high BTU output (16,020,000/ton)
▪ Switchgrass pellets are environmental friendly and some even consider it carbon negative - meaning that the grass growing in fields remove more carbon from
the air that is expelled from equipment used to plant, harvest, and process it.
Click here to view a layout of both a pelleting and briquetting operation that I would set up in our barn in Hammond NY
Click here to view Equipment that I will use to harvest hay and produce briquettes
Click here to view details describing how using hay for a home heat source fits into the overall concept of Energy Farming where clean energy technologies such as solar, wind, geothermal, & biofuels are farmed from available resources on a given farm or at a desired location, and also to view how communities that move to begin using densified hay as a heat source could generate local jobs, and local revenue.
Listed below are several web sites that provide quality information on pellet and briquetting equipment, general information related to this concept, and a links to some online forums
I think the opening lines on the homepage at http://www.grassbioenergy.org/ say it right:
"It takes 70 days to grow a crop of grass pellet fuel"
Pelleting Equipment and other info
http://www.gardenheat.com/pto pellet mill.html
Further details on biochar are found at the following Cornell University site:
The video below shows our small pellet machine making the pellets shown above sorry for the sideways video...)
The picture below shows these grass pellets burning in our pellet stove: