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Factors affecting pelleting and energy consumption

Factors affecting pelleting and energy consumption

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The prosperity of industrial feed compounding is based on the refining effect of mixed and processed raw materials, especially since the introduction of the pelleting process in the 1920s.
The prosperity of industrial feed compounding is based on the refining effect of mixed and processed raw materials, especially since the introduction of the pelleting process in the 1920s.

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Published by: Grain and Feed Milling Technology magazine on Jul 29, 2010
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Grain & Feed Milling Technology is published six times a year by Perendale Publishers Ltd of the United Kingdom. All data is published in good faith, based on information received, and while every care is taken to prevent inaccuracies,the publishers accept no liability for any errors or omissions or for the consequences of action taken on the basis of information published.©Copyright 2010 Perendale Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any formor by any means without prior permission of the copyright owner. Printed by Perendale Publishers Ltd. ISSN: 1466-3872
Digital Re-print - July | August 2010
Factors affecting pelleting and energy consumption
 
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T
he prosperity of industrial feedcompounding is based on therefining effect of mixed andprocessed raw materials, especial-ly since the introduction of thepelleting process in the 1920s.
Compound feed complies with differentquality attributes like hygienic and nutritionalphysiological aspects, technical characteristics,and environmental compatibility. Despite rais-ing additional costs for equipment as well asfor electrical and thermal energy consumption,currently up to 70 percent of the compoundfeed produced in Europe and in the USA, arepelleted.The requirements with respect to pelletquality, especially durability, differ according to the animals to be fed, to the kind of live-stock breeding and in some cases to thedemand of the farmers too.Pellets should be hard and resistant to all demands placed on them from thevarious stages in the production process to the feeding trough, be as dust-freeas possible and be of good appearancein colour, texture and surface withoutfractured areas which may cause abrasion.
Advantages of pelleting
Pelleting compound feed offers sev-eral advantages compared to just ground,mixed mealy feedstuff.The hectolitre weight (tap density) of thebulk material is raised to some extent, so lower  transportation and storage volume is required.Generally, pellets are free-flowing; arching inbins and silos is reduced.Emptying and dosing is quite easy with nosegregation arising within the product.Contamination risk from bins and hoppersor even conveying equipment is of minor inter-est because of the very small amount of resi-dues that arise when transporting stable pellets.Heat treatment during the pelleting processreduces microorganisms, the overall hygienestate is improved and storage periods may beextended - up to storage conditions, decay isdeferred.Benefits are not only given with respect to transport and handling but also to livestock management. Feed composition is guaranteedeven in small units, all components of the mix- ture are incorporated homogeneously in thepellet, ensuring an even supply of ingredientsand nutrients, selective feeding is impossible.Due to market conditions, the compositionor components may be changed without therisk of the feed being refused by the animals.Palatability is also improved. The integrated thermal process modifies starch and creates acertain taste and smell which, by the way, may be covered by special additives in order make the feedstuff distinctive.Digestibility is increased, thus the nutrientutilisation is enhanced and there is less feedwastage.The efficiency of the pelleting process ismeasured by a large production throughputat low power requirement and an output of pellets with low abrasion index, fulfilling highquality aspects and resulting in almost lowspecific energy consumption (kWh/t).These are conflicting objectives of highdemands and it is difficult to meet the require-ments at same time, especially regarding thefact that almost 80 percent of the total costsare related to raw material input and a mere of 20 percent is on hand with respect to technicalexercise of influence.The production of firm and stable pelletsrequires high pressure implying high energy consumption and/or reduced throughput.Fewer throughputs stand for extended reten- tion time under pressure and thus producebetter compaction.The specific energy demand rises anyway.But of course, pelleting is not just a matter of pressure and energy input.The pelleting process can be divided in three main procedures:- conditioning the pre-processed com-plete feed meal (complete exceptfor sensitive micro components tobe added on top or end of line)- compacting and consolidat-ing the mash into pellets- cooling the moist and hot pellets to a storable and conveyable productBesides technological items materialproperties are of important impact. Next to density, the particle size distribution isof special interest because it affects thepelleting process significantly: from both theoretical and practical experience it iswell known that fine structured materialalmost allows trouble-free productionof firm pellets, but causes high energy consumption for milling.Coarsely grounding feed, at the recentrequest of nutritionists, tends to produce lessstable pellets, because bigger particles pre-determine breaking points within the pellets,creating more cross sectional areas within thepellet and thus more abrasion.Depending on material’s properties (hard-ness, brittleness or even flexibility) those par- ticles are crushed between rollers and dieconsuming more energy and causing probably more wear.
Factors affecting pelletingand energy consumption
by Rainer Löwe, Research Institute of Feed Technologyof IFF, Braunschweig-Thune, Germany
Figure 1 illustrates a typical but simplified flowdiagram of a feed production plant
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The original (primary) particle size ischanged.This additional operating expense has tobe set in relation to less energy input duringmilling. Commonly, the breakdown of energy consumption of compound feed production is60 percent for pelleting and about 16 percentfor milling (see Figure 3).Although these figures are not statistically affirmed and based on feed producer survey in Germany, frequently asked coarser mixturesmay cause a different ranking.
Factors affecting pellet stability
Feed ingredients influence pellet stability indifferent ways. While – depending on moisture contentand temperature – starch and protein may cause more stable pellets, fat as a lubricantreduces friction in the die holes and leads toweaker pellets.Increasing the fat contents leads to partialcoating of the feed particles, which prevents thepenetration of the steam and thus the develop-ment of binding agents – moisture bridges aswell as the gelatinisation of starch [Reference 1]. While formula- tion and preparationare beyond the pressoperator’s control, heis left with a number of other parameters to exercise influenceon the pellet milloperation and hence on the product quality.It is evident from the large number of influ-encing factors that there can be no standard for  the plant setting.The pelleting system has to be adapted toactual requirements by means of adjustmentand it has to cover a very wide spectrum.Manipulation is possible through die androller selection, rotary speed, gap width andconsequently pressure conditions, but also by  throughput and steam regulation, always tak-ing due account of the motor load or currentintake.Longer die channels increase the prob-ability that binding will take place between the feed particles so that – supported by enhanced frictional forces – the pellet durabil-ity is adequately improved. The same effectis reached when using small bore-hole diam-eters.Normally, the energy consumption will riselinearly, while the pellet stability tends towardsa final value the longer the die holes are.A considerable influence on pellet stability  takes the press throughput.For fixed die dimensions and a givennumber of die holes, the load of each holeincreases with higher throughput: the power intake rises while the pellet-stability decreases.This can be explained by the minor compac- tion of the thicker layer pressed into the holesat a time [Reference 2].
Double-stage pelleting
Another important factor is the precom-paction of the feedstuff before entering the die
Table 1: Effects due to different feed processing measures
EffectShort-termconditioningand pelletingLong-termconditioningExpandingExtrudingStructure changeslownohighvery highHygienisationlowvery highvery highvery highMatrix changeslowlowhighvery high
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steam. Adding as much steam as possible dur-ing pre-conditioning is thus desirable.Depending on absorbability and other fluidswithin the mixture, and taking into account that0.6 percent of saturated steam will increaseprocess temperature by approximately ΔT =10 K (Figure 4), minimum content should beapproximately three percent (pelleting) to fivepercent (expanding).However, steam input is limited due topressureless operation of the pre-conditioner by the maximum possible feed temperatureand moisture with respect to pelleting (lubricat-ing effect) and storage stability (moulding).To ensure thermal energy is used efficiently,loss minimisation and the maximum levels of steam that can be added need to be consid-ered. Measures for saving thermal energy are,for example, sufficient boiler pressure to allowa drying phase by pressure reduction directly in front of the conditioner, accompanied by anadequate number of steam traps, insulation of all steam pipes, conditioners etc and of coursestringent avoidance of leakages.
The grinding process
 With respect to grinding processes, thespecific energy requirement is determined by material properties, the required particle sizereduction, the comminution equipment and the process and plant layout.Generally, particles should be only as fine asnecessary and as coarse as possible, since theenergy requirement rises exponentially withincreasing fineness [Reference 5].Measures to discharge the mill-motor load, such as the preliminary separating of fines, closed-circuit processes or multi-levelsize reduction, can achieve energy savings of between five and 25 percent.Frequency controlled drives allow selec- tive circumferential speed to realise roughly aspired structures and particle size distributions.establishing bonds between feed parti-cles improving pellet stability. However increasing the amount of steam is limitedbecause of crossing admissible moisturelevels reducing the friction in front of andwithin the die channels.
Factors affecting energyconsumption
Considering potential energy savings, specificconditions of industrial compound feed produc- tion need to be taken into account. Increasingcustomer focused production of small batchesas well as intensified use of hydrothermal-mechanical treatment (in consequence of highly demanded hygiene safety) ran up costs for energy consumption (Reference 4).To assess the energy efficiency of a proc-ess, its specific electrical energy requirement(kWh/t) should be related to effect-specificenergy consumption, for example with respect to the refinement process, refinement targetsand capacity utilisation.This would allow general conclusionsregarding specific processability. When comparing different sites withinone company, the balance sheets should bechecked as to whether initial conditions are infact comparable. An assessment always needs to consider not only energy consumption, butalso investments and amortisation, mainte-nance, wear and tear and the cost of spareparts [Reference 4].Influences on energy consumption aremanifold: plant diagram, processing capacity and its utilisation are essential to realise aspiredprocessing aims.Handling hundreds of formulations andproducing batch sizes between 1.5 tonneand 50 tonne is economically challenging.Besides structure of components and mixtureformulations technical condition of machinery and equipment as well as maintenance affectenergy consumption.Last but not least technological disci-pline and education of the staff take effect(Reference 4).Besides material, machine and processparameters, the processing aims determine theenergy input: hygienisation efforts, reductionof antinutritive substances, decomposition of certain ingredients, pellet stability.It is essential to understand that the higher  the targeted processing level, the higher theenergy input. Qualitative effects of refinementprocesses are shown in Table 1.In refinement processes, part of the electri-cal energy inputs can be provided by cost-effi-cient thermal energy in the form of saturatedhole – caused by double-stage pelleting, thegap width between roller and die (automaticgap control) or the roller speed. The higher thespeed (or the number of rollers), the smaller  the material plug being pushed through thebore, the better the compaction inside theplug.The addition of pelleting aids can bind,for example fatty contents, by increasing thesurface area; this may reduce pellet abrasion.But the effect of auxiliary agents depends to ahigh extend on feed mixture recipes. Frictionreducing tensides or surface active agents may improve pelleting behaviour, too.By facilitating the easier transfer of heat(vapour) through the meal, which is con-ditioned more intensively, surfactants may reduce pellet press energy consumption.Another effect is the possible reduction of undesired moisture loss (shrink) which under certain conditions may give support to raise theproduction rate [Reference 3].Finer grinding of the compound-feed com-ponents leads to larger specific surfaces and thus to more favourable conditions for theabsorption of liquids and the effectiveness of  the saturated steam and results in more firmpellets.Application of the saturated steamcreates more favourable conditions for 
Figure 2: compiles compactingaffecting factorsFigure 3: Breakdown of energy consumptionFigure 4: Increase of temperature whenconditioning compound feed by means ofsaturated steam
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References
[1] Heidenreich, E. - Löwe, R. -Pelleting technology: looking to the future - International MillingDirectory 2000, pp. 55-60[2] Löwe, R. - Judging pellet stability as part of pellet quality - FeedTech 9 (2005), pp. 15-19[3] Birchmore, J. - Surfactant’s benefits tofeed manufacturers - Feed Magazine/Kraftfutter 3-4 (2010),pp. 17-21[4] Feil, A - Is it possible to cut energy costs for the production process?- IFF colloquium BraunschweigMay 2005 International ResearchInstitute of Feed Technology [5] Löwe, R. - Vermahlungstechnikenfür Futtermittel - Tierernährungfür Tierärzte, TiHo Hannover April 2007, Proceedings pp. 33-34;Editor J. Kamphues and P. Wolf 
Heat recovery
Additionally possibilities for heat recovery from production processes for heating circuitwater for social rooms or offices should bereviewed.Because of low enthalpy and possibly hygienic contamination direct use of thermalenergy from cooling or drying air for raw or feeder water is not recommended. A benefitfrom this energy recovery would rather be areduction of odour emissions. Checking thepossibilities of combined heat and power cyclemay be useful.The total energy requirement of a feedmillis decisively determined by plant layout, for-mulation texture, type and technical state of  the equipment, plant capacity, load factor and technological discipline among the staff.In addition to the measures mentioned, the prevention of energy losses (next tosteam accommodation pressure-air supply)and the use of low-cost electricity ratesbasically re-present further optimisationpotentials; in view of energy costsdevelopments, these should certainly be taken into account.Development trends include larger designsfor hammer mills, and the increased use of hammer mills with vertical rotors and roller mills with two or more assembly levels (roller pairs with different gaps), either instead or combined.Both machines are preferable in terms of energy use, but with roller mills material-specificprocessing restrictions need to be taken intoaccount.
More information:
Figure 5: Influence of saturated steamaddition on energy requirement, pelletdurability and process temperatures
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