From sawdust to fuel

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    Zebrapellets’s wood pellet factory in Mpumalanga.
    Wood pellets are a renewable and sustainable biomass fuel. South Africa is well positioned to take its share of this globally growing market.

    The rolling hills of Sabie, Mpumalanga, are home to one of South Africa’s largest timber-growing areas. It’s here that Zebrapellets has established a factory that not only turns waste from nearby sawmills into something useful, but is a model for development in a rural area.

    Using technology that dries, mills and presses compact sawdust into 6 or 8mm cylindrical pellets, Zebrapellets is transforming waste into clean-burning combustible pellets. The company will produce 80 000 tons of the pellets each year at full capacity from about 160.000mt of sawdust, woodchips, shavings and off-cuts.

    “Because wood pellets are extremely dense and can be produced with a low humidity content of below 10%, they burn more efficiently than other types of fuel,” says Jaco Scholtz, Senior Account Manager of the Wood, Paper & Other Industries SBU at the IDC. “They are also carbon neutral, compact to store and can be transported more affordably over long distances than other types of fuel such as coal or oil.”

    It takes just 2,2 tons of pellets to produce the same amount of power as 1,000 litres of oil, saving approximately 2 tons of CO2for the same energy output.

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