Wood pellets

Wood pellets

Wood pellets are a form of fuel used residentially in specialized fireplaces as well as for a number of different purposes industrially and commercially. They are a small, dense compaction of material (generally sawdust) that has been processed to remove moisture and compress into a small enough form to be useful in a number of purposes. Generally these dense pellets have a very low humidity content of less than 10% and due to this they can be burned at extremely high efficiency. Their design also allows them to be used in a number of different automatic feeders, enabling a safe and efficient refueling process to occur regularly. The automatic feeding for these pellets is typically done through an auger or pneumatic process and can be regulated automatically based upon either heat levels or direct external electrical input, allowing for their use in a number of different situations.

The high density and compact size also allows for wood pellets to be easily transported and delivered over long distances to any number of areas and stored for extended periods of time. This has allowed wood pellets to be an excellent alternative to traditional fossil fuels due to their combination of cost effectiveness, ease of storage and use. Further, wood pellets leave considerably less residue after their burning than most other traditional fuels and have considerably less output due to their high burning efficiency.

The materials used for the creation of wood pellets can vary and does not need to come from any specific wood. Because the wood pellet creation process involves forcing wood pulp through small (6mm to 8mm in diameter) holes the standard wood fibers that differentiate most woods are broken down and combined into the solid wood pellet form. This compression process also allows for the wood pellets to naturally bond using their own lignin as a natural glue, therefore no additional treatment is necessary to ensure that wood pellets maintain their standard form. The process also creates wood pellets at a density of approximately one ton per cubic meter, meaning that if dropped in water they would be unable to float like most standard untreated wood.

While interest in utilizing wood pellets for fuel has been growing for some time the wood pellet industry saw its largest period of growth beginning in 1999 as fossil fuel costs began to rise and wood pellet consumption became a more viable alternative for heating and other fuel purposes. This became particularly notable in 2005 following the significant increase in global fossil fuel prices, and currently wood pellets are becoming a major industry throughout Europe.

Currently the ecological benefit of wood pellets is being disputed, though the production and usage process of such pellets is generally being considered a much better alternative to most other conventional fuels and a more sustainable resource for usage worldwide. As production increases the wood pellet market may see large surges, with many residential areas converting entirely to wood pellet heating over other methods that are currently typically used (such as gas or oil heating).

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