Top 10 tips to maximise pellet storage arrangements

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Often customers and installers concentrate on the installation of the boiler, and the storage of the pellets is given little attention. However this is utterly crucial for an effective system – and in the worst case can prevent a system operating at all. Here are some tips from our friends at Billington BioEnergy.

There are many different designs and ways of storing pellets. All have their merits, and a good installer should choose the one that best fits your site and your requirements. There are some common threads to all systems however:

  1. The store should be the right size for you. It is easy to calculate from your heat load what your annual requirement of pellets will be, and so dividing this by your store size will tell you how many deliveries you should expect to need. Store size will also be determined by the space available on site, and other factors. If in doubt, it is normally better to err on the larger side – this will give you fewer deliveries, and maybe a better price for the fuel.
  2. Suitable access onto site for delivery vehicles to be able to reach the store is critical. We have seen installations in properties that delivery vehicles cannot even reach! We will provide more detail on this in another blog, but if there are any concerns then you should discuss with us before even starting to install a system.
  3. Access into the store is also important, so the fuel can be inspected at any time. It is important that this can be done safely even when the silo is full. (Please note the Health and Safety Executive currently advise that NO ONE should enter a wood pellet store without the correct training and equipment, due to the potential risks from oxygen depletion)
  4. The store must have plenty of inspection panels, so you can easily see how much fuel is inside, at all levels so you can reorder fuel in good time.
  5. The store must be completely watertight. Any presence of water or moisture at all will destroy pellets.
  6. It is crucial that the pellets are not blown against a hard surface within the store, which will cause damage and dust build-up. There must be some form of soft impact mat or foam, and this must not be blown aside by the air pressure.
  7. All stores should be cleaned and maintained to reduce dust build up – usually in the summer. It is a good idea if you can have an isolator valve of some sort on the store, which allows you to shut the fuel off and service any augers etc without need to empty the remaining fuel.
  8. The pipework to fill the store should be 110mm in diameter, with the minimum of gentle bends (>1m radius) possible. The connections for the vehicle must be between 1.0m and 1.5m above the ground or a stable loading platform. The are usually a A-400 male Camlock or Storz 110A coupling. Ideally the loading pipework runs vertically to begin with, with a gentle curve into to the store. The pipework should be earthed.
  9. There must always be a system to relieve the air pressure from the delivery, otherwise the store may be damaged. This is usually a second pipe, to which a dust extraction unit can be attached to extract and collect any dust generated within the store. A power supply is usually required for this unit. This can be either a second fill pipe (which may allow you to utilise more space in the store), or a dedicated venting pipe (in which case it should have a larger diameter to avoid pressurising the store – usually 165mm).
  10. We think it is always a good idea to hold a small stock of pellets in 10kg bags, just in case you ever get caught short. However this will only work if you have an accessible place in your system to safely empty them.

Information courtesy of Billington Biofuels

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