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Wood Pellets Project Running Success in Serbia: A Case Study

By Jack Huang    Jun 14, 2014

Environment Overview of Investing Wood Pellet Plant in Serbia:

Serbia is a relatively new biomass pellet market with a promising future. Biomass as one of major renewable fuel sources in Serbia significantly takes 13% of the overall renewable energy and the biomass potential takes up to 63%, according to the study of Ministry of Mining and Energy of Serbia in 2009. Talking about wood pellets production, there were some challenges confronted, e.g. small market of wood chips makes raw material hard to obtain, no system of subsidies for wood pellets manufacturer, strong oil and gas count-on, but the environment for investing pellet plant is getting better in recent years.
 

Clear technical potential of renewable energy in Serbia
 

The development of the biomass wood pellets market of Serbia is benefit from its abundant forestry resource. Serbia has 2,000,000 hectares forests which takes one-fourth of the country’s total land. The abundant forestry provides large amount of wood wastes as material for wood pellet production and also provide my client with big chance to start wood pellets business.

About My Client

My client, Mr. Bojan who has a abundant of source of wooden waster material. Day after day, how to dispose with these material in a more profitable way becomes a burning issue. So he invested his first wood pellet plant in 2013 in Leskovac, Serbia. The investment was around 1,000,000 Euros. In his wood pellets factory, logs and wood chips from forest harvest, offcuts and saw dust from furniture factory are used as feedstock for making wood pellets. The moisture of wood logs is about 60%, and 18% for offcuts. The pellets are sold to local pellets retailers. By and large, pellets are finally used for burning boiler for industrial purpose.
 

Wood chipsWood logs

Wood chips and wood logs 

Offcuts from furniture factorysaw dust

Off-cuts from furniture company and sawdust


Wood Pellet Plant Details

In order to make wood pellets from the mixed raw material, my client bought 2 sets of ring die pellet mills and other equipments from GEMCO, a manufacturer of wood pellet mills and briquette machines. The whole pellet line is consisted of raw material resizing equipments, such as log cutter, chipper and hammer mill (the wood logs and offcuts can be resized properly before pelletizing by these machines). dryers, pellet mill, screener, scale, packing machines, etc.  The capacity is 2t/h. During the test, dryer, pellet mill and other parts were working properly after some tweaks, producing quality wood pellets. During the first few testing day, the client delivered 2 trucks of finished pellets (approximately 15-20 tons of pellets) each day. Below are the video shot at that time:



Key Process Explanation

Raw materials preparation

The raw materials of this pellet mill project is wood log from wood dealers and off-cuts and sawdust form furniture factory. The moisture content of the wood log is high up to 60% percent which needs to be chipped and then dried. A wood chipper and dryer in the pellet mill project are used for this purpose.

For wood logs, a wood log cutter is needed to face this challenge.
 

wood log cutter

Wood cutter
 

The cut logs will be further processed by a wood chipper and a hammer mill. The fined particles will be dried until the moisture content is around 15%. When the fined materials are ready, they will be conveyed into the pellet making machines.
 

Wood materials after hammering fine article after processing

Materials after hammer mill                                      Fine articles after processing

Pelletizing

A ring die wood pellet mill is typically used for large scales wood pellets production. It is well-known for longer working life and lower investment. Here are some tips while operating pellet mill:
 

Ring die pellet mill in serbia

Ring die pellet mill
 

  • Proper adjusting and periodical maintenance of rollers which should be checked after every 10 hours, every 48 working hours, demounting and adjusting if necessary.
  • Proper training is required for new pellet mill operators.
  • When unexpected noise happens inside the press chamber, try adjusting relative movement between rollers and dies.

Packaging and storage of wood pellets

In this project, the pellets are packed in 15kg bags. A packaging machine and scale are equipped. When you store wood pellets in separate bags, follow these rules:
 

Pellets packaging and storage

Pellets packaging and storage
 

  • Wood pellets should be kept from moisture and humidity, which may rotten the pellets. And it’s best to place the wood pellet bags indoors, such as, garage and basement, etc.
  • If the pellets have to be placed outdoor, the shelter or cover is necessary to keep them dry. It would be better to keep the pellets bags off the ground by stacking them on pallets. And while stacking the pellets bags, attention is required to the holes on the bags which need to be repaired by water proof tapes, such as duct tape. The stacked pellets bags should be properly covered and fastened to keep them dry and safe from being broken.
  • The pellets should be kept from the direct sunlight, which may higher the storage temperature and increase the chance of fine percentage.
  • The pellets should be kept in a well ventilated place because monoxide gas may be released from the pellets stored, especially in a warm environments. Be aware of the CO poisoning.

Wood Pellets Quality

Here you can see the wood pellets quality. My clients passes the CEN/TS 14778-1 standards for biomass fuel in Serbia, check the result.
 

Pellet quality and transportation
Wood pellet quality  inspection