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Is it possible to produce pellets from leaves? – Sustainable options for heat generation from biomass waste

Nowadays, reusing waste for fuel is a sustainable concept, and it is also possible to make pellets from leaves. In fact, burning dead autumn leaves as biomass in a pellet stove is an option that brings several advantages. In addition, fallen autumn leaves can be used as an excellent source of renewable heating energy, which also facilitates street cleaning at the same time. So, in this post, find out how to use biomass waste for heating to reduce heating costs in the winter season.

Alternative fuel – making pellets from leaves

make an environmentally friendly alternative to fuel by making pellets from leaves

People have been using biomass for cooking or keeping warm for many years. Today, it is used to power electricity generators and other machinery, and why not burn it in a pellet stove. The sustainable living that people are trying to create lately involves the use of biomass, be it from waste. In addition, the production of wood pellets is quite a possible variant, which has many positives.

convert renewable energy source from autumn leaves into wood pellets as fuel

Energy from biomass is usually created or produced by living organisms. The most common biomaterials used for energy purposes are plants such as corn and soybeans. The energy from these organisms can be burned to produce heat or converted into electricity. In principle, biomass contains energy that is absorbed by plants from the sun according to the following mechanism: Plants use photosynthesis to accumulate energy and then convert it into carbon dioxide and water into nutrients (carbohydrates). Accordingly, such biomass can also be burned to generate direct heat and convert it into electricity.

Why use deciduous leaves as an energy source?

collect fallen autumn leaves in a bag with gloves

Autumn leaves are one of the most common biomass wastes. It is easy to get a lot of fallen leaves in a garden or even in the city in autumn and winter. Their intense fall and natural hedge trimming, as well as garden work, leave a lot of green waste. It usually takes a lot of effort and expense to clean up the leaves or get rid of them by burning them. So why not make pellets from leaves and use them as fuel for heating? Thus, you can save a lot of money during the heating season. In addition, with the help of a pellet mill, large piles of leaves can be processed and used in a pellet stove as an alternative solid fuel.

use garden tools such as shovels and trimmers to collect leaves in autumn

As a raw material for heating, autumn leaves have the following advantages:

  • Autumn leaves are plentiful and easy to get for free.
  • The leaves are a high-fiber material that can be easily processed into high-intensity pellets.
  • Such wood pellets burn adequately and evenly, with a high calorific value.
  • Burning leaves produce little smoke or ash.
  • Cleaning a pellet stove does not require much effort and is not dangerous.
  • The waste from biomass provides an environmentally friendly, CO₂-neutral energy that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution.

Benefit from the advantages and produce pellets from leaves

children collect leaves in autumn for reuse in pellet stove as solid fuel

An important advantage is the high density of leaves, which can help save space. Their bulk density is 180 kg/m3, while the density of leaf pellets is at least 650 kg/m3. Moreover, such pellets occupy only a quarter of the space occupied by voluminous leaves. The high density also makes the pellets even easier to store and transport. Furthermore, pellets produced in this way offer much better energy efficiency and have a longer burning time.

space-saving advantages of leaf leaves in autumn for heat generation by burning leaves

Since they are uniform in size and density, pellets can be made from leaves and used quite conveniently in heating stoves. The firepower can be easily controlled by adjusting the speed during refueling. In addition, cleanliness is another advantage of burning leaves in a pellet stove. The process of manufacturing removes ash and dirt along with additional moisture. This process can not only improve the burning efficiency of biomass, but also reduce coking in the stove, minimize the need for cleaning and provide greater safety in use.

Understanding the manufacturing process

use the advantageous density of leaves when pressing them into wood pellets

First, the collected leaves are pressed in a hammer mill and then dried. After putting the biomass into the pellet mill, the roller applies high pressure to it and pushes the mass into the holes of the flat die, where the bulky leaves are formed into solid cylindrical pellets. A knife under the flat die then cuts off the pellets and they end up in a bin. So, anyone who wants to invest in it can make pellets from leaves with the right machines, but there are some guidelines and tips to consider for safety in the process.

Important factors to consider and make pellets from leaves

save heating costs in winter and make pellets from leaves with pellet mill

  • Freshly fallen leaves contain the perfect moisture for making pellets. However, if the leaves are green, damp or too dry, the moisture content should be between 10% and 15%, otherwise they will be difficult to shape and easy to break.
  • Before using the foliage in a pellet mill, the leaves should be crushed to a size of less than 5 mm, otherwise they could block the machine and affect production.
  • It is recommended to add sawdust to the leaves to produce better wood pellets . The lignin contained in the leaves is not sufficient to bind the pellets. Accordingly, with a little sawdust, the quality of the pellets improves significantly.
  • The pellet mill should be preheated before the raw materials end up in it.
  • The mixture should consist of 3-5 kg of raw materials and 10% of waste oil and enter the heated roller.
  • After production, pellets might have some cracks at first, but after a while they become perfect for burning in a pellet stove.
  • Pellets made from leaves can be stored in bags and kept in dry places to avoid moisture.

Convert other types of biomass into pellets.

produce animal feed in the form of pellets from leaves and use them sustainably

Except leaves, a flat die pellet mill can process various types of biowaste, such as crop straw, rice husks, cotton stalks, sawdust, wood chips, grass, twigs, bark, etc. Moreover, such pellets can be used in household stoves, boilers and for industrial heating. Besides, pellet mills can process pet food into pellets to improve the taste and nutrients, or produce for bedding in pet stores.