Why Some Wood Pellet Projects Fail To Perform As Expected

This white paper could be called “wood pellet making 101”. It highlights several critical areas in the process of converting wood to wood pellets. Making wood pellets appears to be a simple and straight forward process: Take wood chips or sawdust and dry the material to a specified moisture content, mill to a very small […]

This white paper could be called “wood pellet making 101”. It highlights several critical areas in the process of converting wood to wood pellets.

Making wood pellets appears to be a simple and straight forward process: Take wood chips or sawdust and dry the material to a specified moisture content, mill to a very small particle size, press into a pellet, and load into bags or into bulk carriers. The reality of making wood pellets is far more complex.

The apparent simplicity of the process has caused many project developers to fail to incorporate the knowledge, skills, and, most importantly, the wisdom gained from experience into the plant designs and operations protocols. To this day, we see projects designed, built, and operated that seemed to have missed the wood pellet making 101 class. It is much more cost effective to get it right the first time rather than to retrofit, or worse, to fail. Errors in feedstock procurement strategies, plant design, equipment choices, process flow, operations methods, and transportation strategies lead to outcomes that fail to meet the benchmarks set in the spreadsheets that justified the project’s development.

Every step of a wood pellet manufacturing project, from feasibility analysis, to the fiber procurement plan, to design and engineering, to commissioning, to full operations, to mill-to-user logistics, should benefit from all of the lessons learned by many years of seeing all the wrong ways of trying to make and market wood pellets. Wood pellet projects, whether for the heating markets or for producing industrial pellets, are far more complex that the process schematics and rosy spreadsheets would suggest.

Read more of this FutureMetrics white paper at: http://futuremetrics.info/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Why_Some_Wood_Pellet_Projects_Lose_Money__Jan_2016_by_FutureMetrics.pdf

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