10 June 2009
Mississippi wood pellet plant opens
As a sign the alternative energy market is continuing its growth, a $10 million 12,000-square-foot wood pellet plant opened Monday in Mississippi’s Stone County.
Piney Woods Pellets plant will employ 27 workers, company officials said.
Osmond Crosby, chief executive of Piney Woods Pellets, said the project began following Hurricane Katrina and plant construction started last year. Crosby is a third-generation tree farmer who owned and managed timberlands in Mississippi for over 25 years, officials said.
The plant should produce 50,000 tons of pellets each year. The pellets will act as feedstock for alternative energy.
Wood pellets are a form of biofuel and consist of various types of wood. By compressing sawdust into pellets, it creates a fuel that has benefits in the home, in commercial applications, and in the environment. Wood pellets are more efficient than burning cord wood, create far less carbon, and have the EPA’s approval.
All pellets are biomass materials, products of commonly grown plants and trees. In the past, the most common residential pellets consisted of sawdust and ground wood chips, which are waste materials from trees used to make furniture, lumber, and other products.
As a part of the production process, low-grade forest products such as round pulp and other low-grade woods have been debarked and chip for raw material. Resins and binders occurring naturally in the wood products hold wood pellets together, so they usually contain no additives.
The manufacturer processes these raw materials under high pressure and temperature and compresses them into small pellets, cylindrical in shape. Softwood, hardwood, and clean recycled wood waste are all used to make the product.
Pellet mills across the country receive, sort, grind, dry, compress, and bag wood and other biomass waste products used to produce fuel pellets. The raw material received will determine which process the manufacturer uses, but it usually includes the following steps: Reception of raw material, screening, grinding, drying, pelletizing, cooling, sifting, and packaging. As of 2007, over ei80ghty pellet mills across North America produced in excess of 3.4 million tons of fuel per year.
Wood pellets first came to the forefront in North America in the 1970s as an alternative fuel.
For related information, go to www.isa.org/manufacturing_automation.