Healthy Economies/Healthy Environment (Iowa Program): DDG Fuel Pellets a GIVF Project in Cooperation with LDJ Industries, Pella, IA
Daniel Burden, Mary Holz-Clause, and Douglas Stokke, P&S, Value-added Agriculture and the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center (AgMRC)
This project evolved out of a request to assist an entrepreneur in the development of a bio-based composite-material formulation for two extruded product applications. It is in cooperation with and with matching support from the Iowa Area Development Group (IADG), West Des Moines, IA., and in partnership with LDJ Manufacturing, Pella, IA. LDJ believes that the new composite-pellet formulation will have more consistent combustion properties, lower ash production and similar to less emissions than currently prevalent high-sugar corn fuel. Additionally, the new extruded fuel will be a value-added agricultural product that combines underutilized, waste-stream-type materials from ethanol production, wood-product manufacturing and perhaps field-waste stovers. LDJ has established national marketing through large chain home-improvement stores. Prototype and pre-production development is being undertaken with the assistance of the probably manufacturer for the product, Waterloo Mills, Waterloo, IA; and processing-equipment manufacturer Landers Machinery, Ft. Worth, TX.
Bio-based composite-material formulation for two fuel-pellet product applications
This project has a number of significant accomplishments that include:
- An experimental prototype pellet was initially development at Iowa State University that evolved into pre-production prototyping at Waterloo Mills in association with Landers Machinery.
- Testing with wood and cob material showed that these formulations produced an inferior product. This resulted in fine-tuning the extruder-die configuration and extrusion parameters for a 100% DDG pellet from ethanol-manufacturing co-product material.
- The Project will retain seven and perhaps develop ten new worker positions with Waterloo Mills, Waterloo, IA, within the next two years.
- The Project will contribute to the ongoing expansion of LDJ Industries, Pella, IA, and contribute to the addition of forty to sixty new worker positions with the next two years.
- The DDG pellet is commercially firm, i.e., it stands up to packaging, shipping, storage and auger-handling.
- The DDG pellet emissions and combustion testing by Twin-Ports Testing Inc., Superior, WI., demonstrated significantly higher BTU production, lower emissions, and lower ash (residual) production; than corn kernels, wood pellets or composite DDG-wood-dust pellets (competing and potentially competing fuels).
- Negotiations are underway between the partners on LLC formation and profit sharing.
- A USDA Rural Development Pass-Through-Loan-Guarantee application was submitted by IADG to assist the ongoing expansion of the fuel-stove production facility in Pella, IA.
- A patent application regarding the architecture of the extrusion die has been applied for by LDJ, Landers Machine, and Gary Wobler under the name of Ag Pellet Energy.
- A filing for patent-protection currently is underway on a 100% DDG Pellet and Processing System for both fuel and feed applications.
- Ag Pellet Energy and Landers Machine have introduced this concept to the ethanol industry and are forming a new company, Ag Fuel & Feed, which will be based in Iowa. The 100% DDG Pellet and Processing System is designed to be located at or near ethanol plants. Marketing the technology as a system for sale to ethanol plants, a concept developed by the ISU Extension Value-added Agriculture Project.
- Cattle feeding tests were conducted under contract with Dr. Dan Loy, Iowa State University, regarding the analysis of the palletized distillers' grains and examining systems for feeding and delivering them to cattle with positive results. Additional contract research with Dr. Loy is looking at market analysis for this product.
- In March, 2007, a test-burn was conducted at the Wisdom Station power plant, Spencer, Iowa, owned and operated by Corn Belt Power Cooperative, Humboldt, Iowa. The test burn consisted of mixing 10% of Ag Pellet Energys DDG Pellets with 90% coal at the power plant. Although the plant did not achieve full generation output with the fuel blend, a reduction in emissions (percent opacity, which is the measurement of visual emissions coming out of the stack) was obtained.
Ag Pellet Energy is now focusing on their 100% DDG Pellet to serve both the fuel and feed markets; with the fuel market changing from home and light-industrial application to large-scale power co-generation systems. A DDG pelletization system could have significant positive impact on the DDG transportation stem related to animal feed, as well as large-scale power-generation co-firing systems.
Recently, LDJ Industries, Pella, has experienced an ash build-up problem with their automatic-feed burner system in their residential light-industrial stove units. Based on testing lab data, this problem was unforeseen and deemed unlikely. However, they currently are considering a redesign of their burner system as well as simply abandoning the DDG-pellet product for the residential light-industrial stove application. The ISU Value-added Agriculture Project is assisting LDJ in this effort by identifying ISU research partners and preparing a 2007-2008 Iowa Energy Center Grant to fund the effort.
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August 3, 2007
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