Camelina composite pellet fuels feasibility for residential and commercial applications
Taasevigen, Danny Jovin
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The use of wood pellet fuels for heating homes and buildings has been a mainstay in Montana since the first energy crisis of the 1970's. With the increasing demand placed on wood pellet fuels and a steady decrease in supply, alternatives must be explored. Camelina Sativa, an oilseed crop of the mustard family, is rich in oil and pressed for biodiesel. The bi-product, a waste meal, is being tested for many different applications to increase the value of the crop. This research explores the use of camelina meal in multi-fuel pellet mixtures. The meal has a distinct quality of binding to itself with the addition of water. This unique characteristic, along with the high heat output of the meal when burned, led to the advanced research into camelina's possibility of being a major additive in multi-fuel pellet formulations. Camelina was combined with sawdust at 50% by weight and pressed from a KL Series pelletizer. These pellets were tested by the Minnesota Valley Testing Laboratory in Bismarck, North Dakota, against premium wood pellets and the results were analyzed. The camelina fueled pellets offered a higher heat output than premium wood pellets, but also higher percentages of sulfur and ash. To ensure that camelina could be an additive in multi-fuel pellets, testing was done on two different types of pellet stoves with the use of a Bacharach Environmental Combustion Analyzer 450 to obtain emission values. After comparing the results to premium wood pellets, the study was advanced to other waste products in hopes of offering multiple fuels for Montana, all with camelina as the major supplement. To further extend the study, testing of the 50/50 camelina sawdust mixture was performed on a small industrial pellet boiler at the Townsend Elementary School in Townsend, Montana. The results were compared to a testing firm's results (Bison Engineering) on the current fuel used in the boilers for emissions. Results for both applications indicated that the camelina fueled pellet mixtures would be better suited for small industrial applications such as the one the Townsend Elementary School utilizes.