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.
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From Pellet Fuels Institute

This document is intended to help all involved in the wood pellet industry communicate about supply issues that can sometimes occur during times of great demand. Below are several major factors with supporting points, but the three main points to emphasize include:
    1.    Consumers should keep buying pellets – but slow and steady is key. Urge consumers NOT to “stock up” for the entire winter; simply buying enough for a week or a month will help producers and retailers ensure a steady supply.
    2.    The pellet industry is doing everything it can to keep up with the high demand. We are working together to ensure that regions with high product volumes are able to help supply regions with lower volumes.
    3.    Use Pellet Fuels Institute as a resource for news on this subject, and to check for fuel availability.
Weather conditions have an enormous impact on the demand for pellets.
    •    It might sound obvious, but a longer- or colder-than-normal winter can dramatically drive up demand for pellet fuels--just like other heating fuels--beyond production capacity for some producers.
    •    Winter 2013-2014 was an especially long and cold winter, with many areas of the Northeast still experiencing freezing conditions well into April or even May.
    •    In early forecasts, winter 2014-2015 was projected to be similarly cold (although some forecasts have been adjusted recently to reflect warmer trends).
    •    However, there are signs that this winter will not be as severe as last winter. As of October 7, 2014, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) adjusted its Winter Fuels Outlook to reflect the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) revised winter prediction with warmer temperatures than previously expected. The report also indicates that consumers will utilize and spend less on natural gas and electricity in the coming heating season. 
The pellet fuels industry varies significantly from region to region, but works together to meet overall demand.
    •    Just like the weather varies from region to region, so does the pellet industry. Part of this is due to the types of feedstock that are available in different parts of North America – hardwood vs. softwood lumber.
    •    Under normal conditions, consumers purchase pellets that are sourced locally in most cases.
    •    In some areas of the Midwest, an unseasonably wet spring delayed access to wood fiber in the 
forest products supply chain, causing planned sources of cost effective fiber for making pellets 
more challenging to obtain than projected 3-6 months prior.
    •    Weather conditions in different parts of the continent can have an impact, as one area has a 
larger demand and another area has a larger supply on hand. Right now, there is high demand in the Northeast and high supply in the West. Some retailers and producers are working together to ship excess fuels to places that are at risk of running low. These partnerships will continue for the entire season.
    •    Many pellet producers are small to mid-size, local businesses that are adjusting to keep up with quick demand changes. It takes time to build out the infrastructure and train employees
to ramp up production, as well as access fiber supplies needed, which many times require long term commitments. These businesses must use caution while growing, because a season or two that are warmer than normal can have an adverse effect when end-users no longer commit to similar pellet volumes.
More Americans than ever before are turning to pellet fuels as a primary or supplementary method of heating their homes and businesses.
    •    At last count, well over one million homes across the country had installed pellet-fueled heating appliances, and roughly 2.5 million homes heated primarily with wood.
    •    Wood heating is projected to grow the fastest for the 2014-15 winter compared to other heating fuels; more than electricity, natural gas, and propane. As the industry grows, it will become better able to respond to these types of conditions. 
Pellet fuels remain a cost effective way to heat homes, particularly in the areas that are primarily electric, fuel oil and propane.
    •    The cost of pellets for home heating is considerably less expensive than heating with electricity, and comparable to slightly less expensive than heating with fuel oil or other fossil fuels. This helps explain the seemingly sudden popularity of pellets for home heating.
    •    According to the New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning, wood pellet prices for 2014 are comparable to those of natural gas and cordwood. These three fuels cost less than half the price of kerosene and propane, and about a third the price of electricity. 
Here’s how consumers can help:
    •    Continue purchasing pellets!
    •    But it’s important not to panic. If too many people “stock up” with unnaturally large amounts, 
retailers and producers will have a hard time keeping up with the demand.
    •    Slow and steady is the way to go. Purchase pellets only for the next month or week. This will 
help ensure that there’s enough to go around, and that producers are able to keep up with the demand. In the event that this winter is warmer than has been projected, this will prevent an “overstock” of pellets sitting in a garage or tank waiting to be used.
    •    Look for highly efficient pellet appliances, which will allow the fuel to last longer.
    •    If you absolutely must “stock up” on pellets, the best time to do that is between April and July. 
Here’s how retailers can help:
    •    Make sure you are in communication with your producers about the volumes of demand you are experiencing well in advance of need.
    •    If possible, reach out to your producer contacts in other regions to see if there is excess supply you can order.
    •    Above all, make sure consumers are aware that the pellet industry is doing its best to address the situation. Emphasize that there will be enough to go around and to continue with the slow and steady purchase of pellets. 
Use the Pellet Fuels Institute as a resource for information relating to pellet fuels availability.
    •    We are in touch with pellet producers and retailers daily and can answer questions, or help direct inquiries to the right person. We will also periodically update the media on fuels availability, and post recent statements to the press section of our website.
    •    Check our website’s fuel availability page to see which pellet producers have excess product available for purchase.

 

By University of Nevada, Reno

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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.

Read the original here.

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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.

Read the original here.

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