HOPE mobile pelleting system lands ACR Cooperation Award 2018
Feed, bedding, fuels – pellets can now be produced with just one machine directly on the field from the biomass generated there. In cooperation with Holzforschung Austria (HFA), SCM Produktions- und Vertriebs GmbH (SCM) has managed to combine all process steps of pelleting in one mobile machine. For this achievement, they were awarded the Austrian Cooperative Research (ACR) Cooperation Award 2018 on October 1, 2018.
Anyone who wants to produce agro-pellets can now do this directly with the existing biomass in their own field and use or market their own pellets themselves.
Logistically this is, of course, a quantum leap, said Christian Freilach, CFO of SCM a small company from Staasdorf near Tulln in Lower Austria that has just launched the world’s first mobile pelleting machine ready for series production.
Indeed, the development is so successful that SCM has already signed a cooperation and license agreement with a large Chinese mechanical engineering company. Holzforschung Austria (HFA) made a significant contribution to the quantum leap.
Thanks to the cooperation, we were able to advance development much faster and more effectively, said Christian Freilach.
Compact design with high output
Not unlike a caravan on the outside, the machine combines everything that is necessary to produce pellets directly in the field. The machine mows or picks up and chops any kind of straw-like biomass and turns it into pellets for animal feed, bedding, fertilizer, further processing, or biomass fuel; depending on what the farm needs. The plant’s own lignins or protein are used as binders.
SCM able to test its innovation as part of a cooperation project between several partners called “Harvest Optimtimisation for crops by Mobile Pelletising Engineering – HOPE”. The project used the plant Virginia mallow (Sida hermaphrodita) to optimize the pelletizing technology together with the HFA.
Without the experience of the HFA, this would not have been possible in this form, said Freilach.
Often grown on marginal lands, Virginia mallow is a perennial multipurpose crop popular amongst pollinators and also suitable for restoring depleted soils.
These soils will later be valuable arable land again. Mobile pelleting thus enables an ecologically sensible form of field management, said Christian Freilach.
There was a certain sense of urgency too in the development, because the competition on the market increases, the more important energy crops become. In view of this development, mobile pelletizing technologies are among the future technologies because they make the use of crops for energy generation economical.
It was possible to combine several process steps in a compact form and with limited weight on one platform, a real challenge said Wilfried Pichler from HFA, who headed the HOPE project.
Straw pellets, for example, have a higher energy density than straw bales, use less storage space, and are easier to transport.
In Germany, 11 million tonnes of cereal straw is available annually for energy production – pelleting in the field is a prerequisite to access this resource, said Freilach.
In terms of output capacity, the mobile pelleting machine actually belongs to the heavyweights.
Because very large forces occur, the process places high mechanical demands on machines, said Pichler.
The art of mobile pelleting is to master these forces with a raw material that is not of constant quality in the field.
For example, the biomass is of varying moisture, even if it comes from a single field. The technology is robust and compact, but easy to maintain. The press ring can be opened online so that the load can be removed, explained Pichler.
With a consumption of 30 kilowatts per tonne, SCM can produce around eight tonnes of pellets per hour. According to Freilach, this is four times more than the immediate competition that manages two tonnes per hour.
From the jury’s perspective, “the quality and intensity of the cooperation, the innovative content, social relevance (sustainability) and the high market and export potential” were particularly convincing.
ACR – Austrian Cooperative Research is the umbrella organization and advocacy group for cooperative research institutes. The ACR institutes conduct applied research, development, and innovation, especially for SMEs. In addition, there are testing, inspecting, and certifying as well as technology transfer and knowledge transfer.
The ACR Cooperation Award honours a successful innovation by an Austrian SME with an ACR research institute. Innovation content, practical applicability, economic success, impact on the competitive situation, and employment effects are assessed.