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Wood Pellet Mills

The use of wood pellets from renewable wood fibers as an alternate to coal and other fossil fuels to produce energy has been growing rapidly over the past decade. In response, the wood pellet industry has been expanding to meet global demand with new plants and with extended operations. Unfortunately, the pressure on producers to increase supply has resulted in safety and maintenance issue with the higher incidents of fires and equipment failures as pellet mills operate at high temperatures for longer periods of time.

Pellet mills operate by feeding wood fiber in to a chamber where metal rollers press the wood fiber from saw mills, recyclers and damaged trees from insect infestations through a die. This causes the rollers to heat up and they can reach critical temperatures that are unsafe and result in premature roller failures. Operating rollers reach 125oC / 257oF or higher along with high ambient temperatures. Operators have been using tools such as Infrared (FLIR) guns to measure the machine’s surface temperature to guess internal temperatures.

Real time monitoring of roller temperatures has been in demand from pellet producers, but traditional wired sensors can’t be installed, and battery powered wireless sensors could not survive in the high temperatures.

Working with leading pellet producers and equipment manufacturers, SST has solved the problem. After years of development, SST’s Vulcan High Temperature Sensor was released in 2018. Made using advanced materials such as Aluminum Nitride (ceramic) and PEEK (organic plastic), SST’s high temperature sensor can be installed directly on machines that operate up to 200oC / 392oF depending on ambient temperatures.

Now, pellet producers can have real time monitoring of roller temperatures of their machines while they are in operation.

Leading pellet producers in Canada and the United States are deploying SST’s sensors and gateways to help them increase safety, reduce downtime and gain new insights about the relationship between temperatures and the finished product. To read a press release from one of the largest pellet producers using SST’s sensors, please clink on the link.

Installation is straight forward with mills pre-tapping the rollers to accept the sensor which screw securely in place. Using a Near Field Communication (NFC) enabled Android device, the interval of reporting and alarm thresholds can be changed by simply tapping the sensor with the device like paying for groceries.

SST’s web-based software application called ECM Cloud, with graphic display of temperature provide early warnings and alarms for operators in real time.