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Author Topic: Sawdust to pellets  (Read 762 times)

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Offline metalspinner

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Sawdust to pellets
« on: April 01, 2021, 02:55:39 PM »
All this dust collection talk has me thinking about waste management and reuse of sawdust. 
Does anyone use a pellet mill to recycle your sawdust? Something like this?



It seems large dust generators like sawmills could add another by product to their catalogue. Or small time guys like me might be able to feed their pellet stove for the winter with a years build up of dust collection waste turned to pellets?
I do what the little voices in my wife's head tell me to do.

Offline PoginyHill

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Re: Sawdust to pellets
« Reply #1 on: April 01, 2021, 03:35:31 PM »
Yes, in an industrial environment for dry waste streams. Moisture is the key. The sawdust cannot be too wet, it won't stick together. Moisture needs to be in the 8-15% range. it's a different ballgame if the material needs to be dried before pelletizing.
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Online doc henderson

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Re: Sawdust to pellets
« Reply #2 on: April 01, 2021, 03:36:42 PM »
there is a way to change the drive motor or gear reduction to increase the overall speed range of the auger and just use chips or dust I have been told.  they make them for the pto on a tractor.  but i have been told the production had to be dialed in and it is slow.
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Online doc henderson

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Re: Sawdust to pellets
« Reply #3 on: April 01, 2021, 03:37:50 PM »
I have considered making a die to compact bricks for the stove, and would adapt it to my log splitter and use the hydraulics on that.  may need some starch as a binder.
timberking B 2000, 277c track loader, PJ 32 foot gooseneck, 1976 F700 state dump truck, JD 850 tractor.  2007 Chevy 3500HD dually, home built log splitter 18 horse 28 gpm with 5 inch cylinder and 32 inch split range with conveyor 12 volt tarp motor

Offline WV Sawmiller

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Re: Sawdust to pellets
« Reply #4 on: April 01, 2021, 06:38:58 PM »
https://forestryforum.com/board/index.php?topic=97859.msg1511139#msg1511139

   I asked that same question a long time ago and the bottom line seemed to be it looked like a government style operation where you spend more making them than you get out of selling or using them. Seems the only ones making money in the wood pellet making business are the ones selling the equipment to make them. Good luck and if you break the code be sure to let me know.
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Re: Sawdust to pellets
« Reply #5 on: April 02, 2021, 10:13:25 AM »
That is a very small amount of production compared with the equipment cost and the energy spent (tractor) producing it. 

I once toured a big commercial pellet mill and learned that successful pellets are made from paper mill quality wood chips, hammer milled, and dried to the proper moisture content, not sawdust.  The only way that the pellet mill was successful was government subsidy.  I was not impressed.
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Online doc henderson

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Re: Sawdust to pellets
« Reply #6 on: April 02, 2021, 11:20:14 AM »
my BIL ran and later owned a feed mill, hay and beet pulp.  it was electric and the energy cost was high,  he would go to meeting with admins at the power company, but he felt like they knew they had him.  they made a lot at night when the rates went down.  lots of consumable and wear parts.  I would look at the price of pellet and figure how many tons you have to make to break even.  then figure time and fuel, may not be worth it.  the cheaper ones might then seem interesting, but they tend to overestimate production, hard to get parts.
timberking B 2000, 277c track loader, PJ 32 foot gooseneck, 1976 F700 state dump truck, JD 850 tractor.  2007 Chevy 3500HD dually, home built log splitter 18 horse 28 gpm with 5 inch cylinder and 32 inch split range with conveyor 12 volt tarp motor

Offline WV Sawmiller

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Re: Sawdust to pellets
« Reply #7 on: April 02, 2021, 02:03:49 PM »
   I have seen several threads or posts here where people took their sawdust and mixed it with paraffin wax or such to make fire starters. That seems like a fine use and a bit of a niche market but really uses up just a tiny fraction of the sawdust typically produced during even a small scale milling operation.

 I have read where old well composted sawdust piles sold for really big money from plant nursery operations using it for potting soil and such. I doubt any of us will ever live long enough to see our sawdust compost enough to depend on it as a retirement income. We should have just started sawing when we were much, much, younger. ::)
Howard Green
WM LT35HDG25(2015) , 2009 4wd Dodge PU, Kawasaki 650 ATV, Sthil 440 & 441, homemade logging arch (w/custom built rear log dolly), JD 750 w/4' wide Bushhog brand FEL

Dad always said "You can shear a sheep a bunch of times but you can only skin him once"

Online doc henderson

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Re: Sawdust to pellets
« Reply #8 on: April 02, 2021, 02:11:56 PM »
I make a mean fire starter, but I use planer shavings and wax.  @Southside 
timberking B 2000, 277c track loader, PJ 32 foot gooseneck, 1976 F700 state dump truck, JD 850 tractor.  2007 Chevy 3500HD dually, home built log splitter 18 horse 28 gpm with 5 inch cylinder and 32 inch split range with conveyor 12 volt tarp motor

Offline SwampDonkey

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Re: Sawdust to pellets
« Reply #9 on: April 02, 2021, 05:06:31 PM »
There's two mills here doing it, one is local, using softwood. The other is north of here doing hardwood. The hardwood pellets are better, less dust. And wood is cheap, off public and freehold for most of it. No doubt there was government money to erect them, but they have operated for over 10 years now. At one time, it was all export and you couldn't get pellets enough for the winter. They've had to adjust to local demand. Lots of pellets stoves these days. There are 4 here I know of within a mile in both directions.
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Offline SwampDonkey

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Re: Sawdust to pellets
« Reply #10 on: April 02, 2021, 05:11:39 PM »
I have read where old well composted sawdust piles sold for really big money from plant nursery operations using it for potting soil and such. I doubt any of us will ever live long enough to see our sawdust compost enough to depend on it as a retirement income. We should have just started sawing when we were much, much, younger. ::)
The thing is, it doesn't just sit. I know a couple old sawmill sites abandoned and saw dust in a big pile, still a chestnut brown color. Those are from the 60's. Composting requires some work. I know a big green house operation that makes enough that they sell beyond their own use. Nice black well rotted compost.
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Offline metalspinner

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Re: Sawdust to pellets
« Reply #11 on: April 02, 2021, 08:25:10 PM »
Doc Henderson, I had a fellow scouter very excited to take away a garbage bag full of planer shavings from me. He was making firestarters,too. He said he would be back for more... that was 11 years ago. 😂
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Offline Southside

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Re: Sawdust to pellets
« Reply #12 on: April 02, 2021, 08:35:34 PM »
Well arson can carry a 15-20 year sentence, so with good behavior he may be back shortly.  :D
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Online doc henderson

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Re: Sawdust to pellets
« Reply #13 on: April 02, 2021, 10:15:23 PM »
@metalspinner glad to meet another scouter.  their are several as you may know on the forum.  I can make about 5 cases filling a copy paper boxes with 250 each, and it takes about 2 - 5 gallon buckets.  
timberking B 2000, 277c track loader, PJ 32 foot gooseneck, 1976 F700 state dump truck, JD 850 tractor.  2007 Chevy 3500HD dually, home built log splitter 18 horse 28 gpm with 5 inch cylinder and 32 inch split range with conveyor 12 volt tarp motor

Offline metalspinner

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Re: Sawdust to pellets
« Reply #14 on: April 03, 2021, 07:54:24 AM »
Doc,
My buddy (the previous scoutmaster to me) was making his fire starters with egg cartons.  He filled the carton with chips then melted bees wax and tore each piece apart to use or give to the boys. 
He is a bee keeper, too. So plenty of wax!
I do what the little voices in my wife's head tell me to do.

Online doc henderson

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Re: Sawdust to pellets
« Reply #15 on: April 03, 2021, 08:28:25 AM »
I get the Christmas themed cupcake papers.  I use candles from luminary projects and also from friends and family who want the fire starters.  i put batches into charismas themes cookie tins (plastic) and give them as gifts.  i have in-laws that use to burn wood and i would give a winters supply to them.  they make the whole room smell good.  I put a yarn wick to help light them, or on occasion have been know to make them spontaneously combust.  glycerin and potassium permanganate.

usflag
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Offline farmfromkansas

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Re: Sawdust to pellets
« Reply #16 on: April 20, 2021, 02:29:34 PM »
I have been using small cardboard boxes such as cracker boxes to help start my shop furnace in the morning.  My wife saves them, I fill with sawdust-chips from the dust collector, and set one in the bottom of the furnace, put a piece of wood on each side, then lay some sticks across so the box is not smashed on the bottom of the furnace.  Put a few newspaper pages in to get the thing started, and put a couple pieces of dry wood on top of the sticks.  light newspapers, the box gets on fire, starts the dry wood, and then I throw some chunks of firewood in. Have yet to find any unburned sawdust in the furnace.  Neighbor has been telling me to add a little oil, but don't need to.
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