Digital Re-print - July | August 2010

Factors affecting pelleting and energy consumption

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 form or by any means without prior permission of the copyright owner. Printed by Perendale Publishers Ltd. ISSN: 1466-3872


Energy consumption



Energy consumption
Table 1: Effects due to different feed processing measures

Factors affecting pelleting and energy consumption
by Rainer Löwe, Research Institute of Feed Technology of IFF, Braunschweig-Thune, Germany
ments at same time, especially regarding the fact that almost 80 percent of the total costs are related to raw material input and a mere of 20 percent is on hand with respect to technical exercise of influence. The production of firm and stable pellets requires high pressure implying high energy consumption and/or reduced throughput. Compound feed complies with different Fewer throughputs stand for extended retenquality attributes like hygienic and nutritional tion time under pressure and thus produce physiological aspects, technical characteristics, better compaction. and environmental compatibility. Despite raisThe specific energy demand rises anyway. ing additional costs for equipment as well as But of course, pelleting is not just a matter for electrical and thermal energy consumption, of pressure and energy input. currently up to 70 percent of the compound The pelleting process can be divided in feed produced in Europe and in the USA, are three main procedures: pelleted. - conditioning the pre-processed comThe requirements with respect to pellet plete feed meal (complete except quality, especially durability, differ according for sensitive micro components to to the animals to be fed, to the kind of livebe added on top or end of line) stock breeding and in some cases to the - compacting and consolidatdemand of the farmers too. ing the mash into pellets Pellets should be hard and resistant - cooling the moist and hot pellets to all demands placed on them from the to a storable and conveyable product various stages in the production process Besides technological items material to the feeding trough, be as dust-free properties are of important impact. Next as possible and be of good appearance to density, the particle size distribution is in colour, texture and surface without of special interest because it affects the fractured areas which may cause abrasion. pelleting process significantly: from both theoretical and practical experience it is Advantages of pelleting well known that fine structured material Pelleting compound feed offers sevFigure 1 illustrates a typical but simplified flow almost allows trouble-free production eral advantages compared to just ground, diagram of a feed production plant of firm pellets, but causes high energy mixed mealy feedstuff. consumption for milling. The hectolitre weight (tap density) of the Coarsely grounding feed, at the recent Digestibility is increased, thus the nutrient bulk material is raised to some extent, so lower utilisation is enhanced and there is less feed request of nutritionists, tends to produce less transportation and storage volume is required. stable pellets, because bigger particles preGenerally, pellets are free-flowing; arching in wastage. The efficiency of the pelleting process is determine breaking points within the pellets, bins and silos is reduced. Emptying and dosing is quite easy with no measured by a large production throughput creating more cross sectional areas within the at low power requirement and an output of pellet and thus more abrasion. segregation arising within the product. Depending on material’s properties (hardContamination risk from bins and hoppers pellets with low abrasion index, fulfilling high or even conveying equipment is of minor inter- quality aspects and resulting in almost low ness, brittleness or even flexibility) those particles are crushed between rollers and die est because of the very small amount of resi- specific energy consumption (kWh/t). These are conflicting objectives of high consuming more energy and causing probably dues that arise when transporting stable pellets. Heat treatment during the pelleting process demands and it is difficult to meet the require- more wear. reduces microorganisms, the overall hygiene state is improved and storage periods may be extended - up to storage conditions, decay is deferred. Benefits are not only given with respect to transport and handling but also to livestock management. Feed composition is guaranteed even in small units, all components of the mixture are incorporated homogeneously in the pellet, ensuring an even supply of ingredients and nutrients, selective feeding is impossible. Due to market conditions, the composition or components may be changed without the risk of the feed being refused by the animals. Palatability is also improved. The integrated thermal process modifies starch and creates a certain taste and smell which, by the way, may be covered by special additives in order make the feedstuff distinctive.
14 | July - august 2010 Grain

The original (primary) particle size is changed. This additional operating expense has to be set in relation to less energy input during milling. Commonly, the breakdown of energy consumption of compound feed production is 60 percent for pelleting and about 16 percent for milling (see Figure 3). Although these figures are not statistically affirmed and based on feed producer survey in Germany, frequently asked coarser mixtures may cause a different ranking.


Factors affecting pellet stability
Feed ingredients influence pellet stability in different ways. While – depending on moisture content and temperature – starch and protein may cause more stable pellets, fat as a lubricant reduces friction in the die holes and leads to weaker pellets. Increasing the fat contents leads to partial coating of the feed particles, which prevents the penetration of the steam and thus the development of binding agents – moisture bridges as well as the gelatinisation of starch [Reference 1].

he 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.

Short-term While formulaLong-term Effect conditioning Expanding Extruding tion and preparation conditioning and pelleting are beyond the press operator’s control, he Structure changes low no high very high is left with a number Hygienisation low very high very high very high of other parameters Matrix changes low low high very high to exercise influence on the pellet mill is reached when using small bore-hole diamoperation and hence on the product quality. It is evident from the large number of influ- eters. Normally, the energy consumption will rise encing factors that there can be no standard for linearly, while the pellet stability tends towards the plant setting. The pelleting system has to be adapted to a final value the longer the die holes are. A considerable influence on pellet stability actual requirements by means of adjustment takes the press throughput. and it has to cover a very wide spectrum. For fixed die dimensions and a given Manipulation is possible through die and roller selection, rotary speed, gap width and number of die holes, the load of each hole consequently pressure conditions, but also by increases with higher throughput: the power throughput and steam regulation, always tak- intake rises while the pellet-stability decreases. ing due account of the motor load or current This can be explained by the minor compaction of the thicker layer pressed into the holes intake. Longer die channels increase the prob- at a time [Reference 2]. ability that binding will take place between the feed particles so that – supported by Double-stage pelleting enhanced frictional forces – the pellet durabilAnother important factor is the precomity is adequately improved. The same effect paction of the feedstuff before entering the die

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Energy consumption



Energy consumption

hole – caused by double-stage pelleting, the gap width between roller and die (automatic gap control) or the roller speed. The higher the speed (or the number of rollers), the smaller the material plug being pushed through the bore, the better the compaction inside the plug.

establishing bonds between feed particles improving pellet stability. However increasing the amount of steam is limited because of crossing admissible moisture levels reducing the friction in front of and within the die channels.

Factors affecting energy consumption
Considering potential energy savings, specific conditions of industrial compound feed production need to be taken into account. Increasing customer focused production of small batches as well as intensified use of hydrothermalmechanical treatment (in consequence of highly demanded hygiene safety) ran up costs for energy consumption (Reference 4). To assess the energy efficiency of a process, its specific electrical energy requirement (kWh/t) should be related to effect-specific energy consumption, for example with respect to the refinement process, refinement targets and capacity utilisation. This would allow general conclusions regarding specific processability. When comparing different sites within one company, the balance sheets should be checked as to whether initial conditions are in fact comparable. An assessment always needs to consider not only energy consumption, but also investments and amortisation, maintenance, wear and tear and the cost of spare parts [Reference 4]. Influences on energy consumption are manifold: plant diagram, processing capacity and its utilisation are essential to realise aspired processing aims. Handling hundreds of formulations and producing batch sizes between 1.5 tonne and 50 tonne is economically challenging. Besides structure of components and mixture formulations technical condition of machinery and equipment as well as maintenance affect energy consumption. Last but not least technological discipline and education of the staff take effect (Reference 4). Besides material, machine and process parameters, the processing aims determine the energy input: hygienisation efforts, reduction of antinutritive substances, decomposition of certain ingredients, pellet stability. It is essential to understand that the higher the targeted processing level, the higher the energy input. Qualitative effects of refinement processes are shown in Table 1. In refinement processes, part of the electrical energy inputs can be provided by cost-efficient thermal energy in the form of saturated

Figure 2: compiles compacting affecting factors

steam. Adding as much steam as possible during pre-conditioning is thus desirable. Depending on absorbability and other fluids within the mixture, and taking into account that 0.6 percent of saturated steam will increase process temperature by approximately ΔT = 10 K (Figure 4), minimum content should be approximately three percent (pelleting) to five percent (expanding). However, steam input is limited due to pressureless operation of the pre-conditioner by the maximum possible feed temperature and moisture with respect to pelleting (lubricating 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 considered. Measures for saving thermal energy are, for example, sufficient boiler pressure to allow a drying phase by pressure reduction directly in front of the conditioner, accompanied by an adequate number of steam traps, insulation of all steam pipes, conditioners etc and of course stringent avoidance of leakages.

Development trends include larger designs for 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-specific processing restrictions need to be taken into account.

Heat recovery
Additionally possibilities for heat recovery from production processes for heating circuit water for social rooms or offices should be reviewed. Because of low enthalpy and possibly hygienic contamination direct use of thermal energy from cooling or drying air for raw or feeder water is not recommended. A benefit from this energy recovery would rather be a reduction of odour emissions. Checking the possibilities of combined heat and power cycle may be useful. The total energy requirement of a feedmill is decisively determined by plant layout, formulation 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 to steam accommodation pressure-air supply) and the use of low-cost electricity rates basically re-present further optimisation potentials; in view of energy costs developments, these should certainly be taken into account.

[1] Heidenreich, E. - Löwe, R. Pelleting technology: looking to the future - International Milling Directory 2000, pp. 55-60 [2] Löwe, R. - Judging pellet stability as part of pellet quality - Feed Tech 9 (2005), pp. 15-19 [3] Birchmore, J. - Surfactant’s benefits to feed 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 Braunschweig May 2005 International Research Institute of Feed Technology [5] Löwe, R. - Vermahlungstechniken für Futtermittel - Tierernährung für Tierärzte, TiHo Hannover April 2007, Proceedings pp. 33-34; Editor J. Kamphues and P. Wolf

The grinding process
With respect to grinding processes, the specific energy requirement is determined by material properties, the required particle size reduction, the comminution equipment and the process and plant layout. Generally, particles should be only as fine as

Figure 5: Influence of saturated steam addition on energy requirement, pellet durability and process temperatures

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Figure 3: Breakdown of energy consumption

The addition of pelleting aids can bind, for example fatty contents, by increasing the surface area; this may reduce pellet abrasion. But the effect of auxiliary agents depends to a high extend on feed mixture recipes. Friction reducing tensides or surface active agents may improve pelleting behaviour, too. By facilitating the easier transfer of heat (vapour) through the meal, which is conditioned 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 the production rate [Reference 3]. Finer grinding of the compound-feed components leads to larger specific surfaces and thus to more favourable conditions for the absorption of liquids and the effectiveness of the saturated steam and results in more firm pellets. Application of the saturated steam creates more favourable conditions for
16 | July - august 2010

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Figure 4: Increase of temperature when conditioning compound feed by means of saturated steam necessary and as coarse as possible, since the energy requirement rises exponentially with increasing fineness [Reference 5]. Measures to discharge the mill-motor load, such as the preliminary separating of fines, closed-circuit processes or multi-level size reduction, can achieve energy savings of between five and 25 percent. Frequency controlled drives allow selective circumferential speed to realise roughly aspired structures and particle size distributions.

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