Hi Steve, the big bale burners would be way overkill just to heat my house! No need to worry about costs - one thing about me, if I can’t get a plan together for well under the cost of just buying new stuff, I’ll find another way to skin that particular cat😁. The hammer mill I acquired was 50.00, it needed a new bearing, some sheet metal work, and a few new hammers. I’ve got less than 150.00 in the whole thing. I’m building a pellet mill from scratch, and it’ll just be the cost of the steel and bearings/hardware etc. Maybe 3-400.00 total. I have a design for a self feeding tlud (to make charcoal out of the pellets) that I already have most of the more expensive parts out in the shed. The charcoal gasifier will be standard DOW fare, made from used tanks etc… cheap.
I’m going to try Oat Straw (Canada is second largest producer of oats in the world so it is everywhere), it is only 3%ash compared to wheat at 7%. Papers I have read on burning Oat straw pellets note near wood-like burning qualities with a fairly high ash melting temperature, and minor clinkering.
If clinker and slag do end up becoming a problem, 1-2% quick lime addition takes care of it with any straw, even wheat. As luck would have it, I can’t seem to locate a commercial outlet for quick lime, but I happen to live where limestone is everywhere. Making quicklime is easy as pie if you can generate 1000-1200 deg C, which I think a charcoal fired kiln could easily do. So if I decide I need it, I will try burning lime out back to make quicklime. I already made some with my oxy acetylene torch and it worked great.
At this point, I don’t think I’m winging it too much. The pellet making is well documented, and I know what a good pellet is as I’ve been heating with them for years. The mill will have a home heating use even if I don’t drive on pellet char. The first clinker/slag test of Oat straw pellets will actually be in my pellet stove . Everything else I’ve mentioned is based on already proven processes that I will employ in my own way.