Lignetics: Manufacturer of Premium Wood Pellets, Pres-to-Logs® Fire Logs, and Fire Starters

Welcome to Lignetics' blog where we will be posting current information about the wood pellet, fire log, and fire starter industry. We welcome your comments and additions as we develop what we hope will be an up-to-date information center on all developments concerning wood pellets and fire logs.

By University of Nevada, Reno


A new, collaborative grant at the University of Nevada, Reno will further research into biomass conversion by developing a cost-effective process for large-scale dairy farmers to generate energy from manure.
The University's new grant, "Sun Grant: Power/Waste Biomass," totals more than $600,000 over two years, with the bulk of the funds coming from the USDA.

The grant is from the Western Sun Grant Consortium, one of five regional consortia funded by various federal agencies for the purpose of developing a bio-based economy. Together, the consortia form a nationwide network of land-grant universities and laboratories working in agriculture and renewable energy. The organization aims to support farmers by funding research that supports rural economic development through the production of bio-based renewable energy.
"On campus, we are working with researchers in CABNR, Cooperative Extension specialists, and researchers in the College of Engineering," said Charles Coronella, principal investigator of the project. "This type of collaboration is possible only at a land grant university."

The research underway at the University of Nevada, Reno could help dairy farmers with two of their biggest economic challenges: cost of manure disposal and cost of electricity. Coronella, associate professor of chemical engineering, estimates a typical dairy farm could generate twice the electricity it consumes in a year by converting manure to power.
The project is a collaboration between the University of Nevada, Reno, the Desert Research Institute, a California-based company specializing in biomass-fueled generators, and an entrepreneur with experience commercializing new technology for agriculture.

The research builds on existing work Coronella and his collaborators have done in hydrothermal carbonization of biomass, in which heat is used to convert biomass into carbonaceous char. Most of Coronella's previous work has been on lignocellulosic biomass, but his lab has applied the process to manure and found that the resulting bio-carbon pellets have the characteristics of a good fuel, similar to lignite.

The research team will be adapting existing technologies used in hydrothermal carbonization and gasification of biomass pellets with an eye toward developing commercial reactors and generators that meet the needs of Nevada dairy farmers.
The researchers will work with the University's Cooperative Extension unit as well as Reza Shekarriz, an entrepreneur with experience in technology development and commercialization, to reach out to Nevada's dairy farmers and develop a business model for the technology.

Additionally, researchers plan to evaluate how by-products from the carbonization process, which are rich in sugars and organic acids, can be converted into valuable chemicals such as fertilizers.

Coronella believes the research has the potential to significantly reduce a farm's greenhouse gas emission.
"I'm excited to help the dairy industry grow toward sustainability, by helping to convert an environmental liability into renewable, distributed power," Coronella said.

The research team includes Coronella and co-principal investigators Hongfei Lin, assistant professor of chemical engineering; Victor Vasquez, associate professor of chemical engineering; and Sage Hiibel, research assistant professor in environmental engineering.

The research team also includes one full-time graduate student researcher, two part-time undergraduate students and one post-doctoral scholar as part of the team's goal to contribute to an educated renewable energy workforce in Nevada.

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There are numerous benefits achieved by utilizing pellet fuel, including economical and environmental.  Pellet fuel is utilized in a varied settings and applications, such as home heating appliances and large scale boilers in commercial operations.

There are an estimated 1,000,000 residences/businesses in the U.S. currently heating with pellets.

A typical homeowner uses 3 tons of pellets per heating season at a cost of about $825. At an average retail price of $250/ton, pellets offer a fuel cost per million BTU of $19.05.  To offer a fuel cost of $19.05 per million BTU, # 2 fuel oil and propane would have to be priced at $2.05/gal and $1.36/gal, respectively!  (Fuel Value Calculator, USFS, 2008)

One ton of wood pellets has the energy equivalency of 2.8 barrels of #2 fuel oil. (Energy Information Administration)

Direct thermal conversion of 3 million tons of wood pellets displaces the equivalent of almost 8.5 million barrels of #2 fuel oil. That is 356 million gallons!  (Energy Information Administration)

Direct thermal conversion of pellets has an efficiency level of approximately 80%.

Pellet stoves have extremely low particulate emissions due to their high burn efficiency and the density of the fuel (<1 gm/hr). (Environmental Protection Agency)

Every ton of pellets used vs. oil reduces CO2 emissions by about 1.5 tons.  Total emissions offset this year will be nearly 4.5 million tons of CO2.

Pellet distribution costs less than the cost of distributing wood chips.

Wood pellets have a fossil energy ratio (net energy output/fossil energy used) of 12:1.   (Net Energy Value Study, University of Wisconsin Green Bay)

As of 2009, pellet manufacturing directly employs approximately 2,300 people in the U.S. and supports thousands of industry-related jobs in fields such as transportation and logging.  (North America’s Wood Pellet Sector, Spelter & Toth, 2009)

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From Biomass Magazine
By Anna Simet

The U.S. EIA has released its short-term energy and winter fuels outlook, which predicts that, albeit paying higher prices for natural gas (6 percent) and electricity (4 percent in the Midwest, 2 percent in the Northeast), homeowners will enjoy overall lower heating expenditures this winter.
Lower prices will be paid for propane and heating oil, and users can expect to see bills 27 percent and 15 percent lower, respectively.

Though prices for natural gas and electricity are expected to be higher, homeowners can expect to see lower overall heating bills in accordance with milder weather predictions by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, as much as 27 percent less for propane users and 2 percent less for electricity users.

The report indicates that while there are no readily available sources for estimating wood consumption or prices at the regional or national level, as of 2013, 2.5 million U.S. households use wood as a primary heating fuel, a 38 percent increase since 2004. About 8 percent of households use wood as a secondary source of heat, making wood second only to electricity as a supplemental heating fuel. New England’s wood home heating percentage is nearly twice the national rate at 20 percent, or 1.1 million homes, according to the report, mainly rural households.

EIA projects that total renewables used for electricity and heat generation will grow by 2.2 percent in 2014. Conventional hydropower generation is projected to fall by 4.2 percent, while nonhydropower renewables rise by 5.6 percent, surpassing hydropower on an annual basis for the first time.
U.S. wood heat consumption is expected to top out at a 2.16 quadrillion Btu in 2014, and a slightly lower 2.14 quadrillion Btu in 2015.

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By Erin Voegle


From Biomass Magazine

The U.S. EPA has published renewable identification number (RIN) data for August, reporting that nearly 3.5 million cellulosic RINs were generated during the month. More than 1.44 billion RINs were produced across all five biofuel categories.

According to EPA data, more than 3.49 million D3 cellulosic biofuel RINs were generated in August, bringing the total for the first eight months of the year to nearly 3.57 million. Approximately 32,742 were generated for ethanol, with 44,168 generated for cellulosic renewable gasoline. More than 1.64 million were generated for renewable compressed natural gas, along with 1.85 million for renewable liquefied natural gas. So far this year, all 3.57 million D3 RINs have been generated by domestic producers.

EPA data indicates 5,532 D7 cellulosic diesel RINs were generated in August, bringing the year-to-date total to 17,315. About half, 8,859, of those RINs were generated for cellulosic diesel, with 9,343 generated for cellulosic heating oil. So far in 2014, 8,859 D7 RINs have been generated by domestic producers, with 9,343 generated by importers.

More than 4.57 million D5 advanced biofuel RINs were generated in August, bringing the total for the first eight months of the year to 115.16 million. Nearly 74.89 million were generated for ethanol, with 20.35 million generated for biogas, 10.09 million generated for naptha, and 9.9 million generated for non-ester renewable diesel. Approximately 57.52 million D5 RINS were generated by domestic producers so far this year, with 57.72 million generated by importers.

Nearly 1.22 billion D6 renewable fuel RINs were generated in August, bringing the year-to-date total to nearly 9.52 billion. Most, 9.29 billion, have been generated for ethanol, with 34.12 million generated for biodiesel and 197.07 million generated for renewable diesel. More than 9.29 billion D6 RINs were generated by domestic producers, with 32.2 million generated by importers and 197.07 million generated by foreign entities.
Approximately 215.69 million D4 biomass-based diesel RINs were generated in August, bringing the total for the first eight months of the year to nearly 1.71 billion. Most, 1.28 million, were generated for biodiesel, with 423.29 million generated for non-ester renewable diesel. To date this year, 1.35 million D4 RINs were generated by domestic producers, with 96.64 generated by importers and 255.76 million generated by foreign entities.
As of the close of August, the EPA estimates nearly 11.35 billion RINs have been generated so far this year. Approximately 266.38 million have been retired, with 390.37 million locked and available and 10.69 billion unlocked and available.

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