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Miscanthus Pellet Production Line: How to Make Miscanthus Into Pellets?

Date: 12/23/2020 08:55:16 From: Clicks:

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Miscanthus is a species of Asian grass that grows in warm weather and has been used in landscaping as an ornamental grass. It has also been used for several years in Europe as a fuel source, according to ASU officials, and for livestock feed. Miscanthus is a sterile hybrid, non-invasive plant that grows where it’s planted. It is planted from a root rather than a pellet or seed, and it will grow without having to be replanted each year. It requires special equipment to plant and harvest, according to ASU. 


The grass has low input costs and can be grown in fields that won’t support traditional row crops in the region such as soybeans, corn, cotton or rice, Freeze said. Oddly shaped fields on Crowley’s Ridge in places with less nutrients than fields adjacent to the Ridge were ideal for miscanthus, he said. Farmers had hoped that miscanthus could make those fields profitable.

Steve Green, an associate professor of soil and water conservation at ASU, said miscanthus can grow 10 to 12 feet tall, and farmers could make a profit per acre because production costs of growing miscanthus are nominal. The low-maintenance grass is easy to grow and has a long lifespan.

“You can harvest 10 to 12 tons per acre of biomass from miscanthus,” Green said. “Switchgrass, another biomass crop, is more like five-eight tons. And, the miscanthus has an efficient nutrient use system.”

MFA Oil/Biomass in collaboration with its partners planted more than 7,000 acres in Northeast Arkansas, making the Arkansas project the largest of the nine USDA BCAP energy grass projects in the nation, by 2013, according to ASU. It was estimated about 30,000 acres would be needed as “feedstock” for a proposed liquid fuel plant to be built in the area that MFA hoped to build. Former Arkansas Sen. Tim Wooldridge was hired as the MFA Oil Biomass Northeast Arkansas project manager. Wooldridge said at the time the company’s goal was to grow more than 50,000 acres of miscanthus. A search was conducted to find a site for a conversion facility to turn the miscanthus harvest into biofuel.

By 2015, Wooldridge had reportedly left the company for a different job, and federal funding for similar projects dried up, Freeze said. A warehouse in the area was used for a time to store miscanthus bales, but no processing center was ever built, Freeze added. Miscanthus is costly to transport, and it wasn’t profitable for farmers, he said.

Biofuel production is a significant energy sector in North America. About 81 billion liters of biofuel are grown each year, according to About half of that is grown in North America (40 billion), followed by South America (25 billion), Europe (10 billion), Australia/Asia (4 billion), and Africa (2 billion). In North America, corn and soybeans are the primary crops used in biofuel production. Thiesse said most of the corn grown in Arkansas is used for chicken feed or other purposes and he wasn’t sure how much, if any, was used to make biofuel.

One of the main reasons farmers were eager to grow miscanthus was that it is a perennial, but that’s one of the biggest problems when farmers try to remove it, Thiesse said. It takes a combination of poisons and physical removal to remove miscanthus from a field, and can take up to two growing seasons to completely remove the grass from a field, Freeze said. Miscanthus can be flammable if conditions are dry, so if farmers aren’t growing it as a crop, it could pose a safety hazard.

There has been research indicating miscanthus can perform better as a biofuel than other plants in use, but Freeze said he doesn’t know if it will make a comeback in the region. Finding renewable energy sources in the future will be vital, and Freeze said he hopes farmers will play a significant role.

Miscanthus Pellet Production Line

1. Chopping

When miscanthus is harvested and baled in the field to increase density and maximize transport efficiency, it is then transported to the processing facility where it is chopped. Miscanthus is chopped into fibers (25mm-35mm lengths) using a chopper or bale shredder then dried and pelleted.

2. Drying

The chopped miscanthus is further dried using a drier to allow processing to pellets. The required moisture content for pelleting is 10%-15%.

3. Grinding Processing

Before pelleting, the raw material must be reduced to an average particle size. For Miscanthus, this will require two separate grinding operations. Bales will go through a chopper or bale shredder, then through a hammer mill.

4. Pelleting

Pellet formation takes place in the miscanthus pellet machine where the feedstock is extruded through a ring die or flat die. As the pellets begin to extend outside the die, they are broken off with knives at a specified length. There are specialized pellet mill or pellet plant for Miscanthus pellet production.

Miscanthus Pellet Machine
Miscanthus Pellet Machine

5. Cooling

Cooling is necessary t stabilize, dry and firm the pellets. The counter-flow cooler is the most popular type in the industry. It pulls ambient air through a bed of pellets to remove moisture and heat through evaporative and convective cooling.

6. Screening

When the pelleting is complete, some amount of the material will have not formed pellets. These materials are called fines. Screening is necessary to separate this materials out. It is then sent back through the pellet mill. When the pelleting process is functioning correctly less than 3% of the material will be screen out.

7. Bagging

After screening, pellets are bagged for residential sales or stored in bulk. For automatic packaging, pellet packing machine can service you. Pellets are conveyed to a bag-out bin where a scale measures the correct weight for each bag. The bags are then sealed and stacked on pallets.

Application of Miscanthus

Miscanthus as an economical crop is widely used . Generally, they are used in the following ways:

As raw materials for biomass fuel production, such as, miscanthus pellets or briquettes production, used with coal or peat.

As animal bedding, such as horse bedding, cat litter, etc.

As materials for construction materials production such as medium density fiber board (abbreviated as MDF) production.

As raw materials for paper production.

As horticulture raw materials for plant pots construction.

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