PFI seeks research partners

By Anna Austin
Posted August 10, 2009, at 4:36 p.m. CST

The Pellet Fuels Institute is seeking partnerships with research institutions to assist the organization in research aimed to facilitate the development of the North American pelletized fuel industry.

PFI, which is a nonprofit trade association primarily made up of pellet fuel manufacturers, pellet burning appliance manufacturers, industry suppliers and retailers, developed an original set of pelletized fuel standards in the mid-1990s, but decided to rewrite the standards in 2005 because they lacked key components. The original standards test grades were too broad, test methods were not defined, there was no specified quality control or assurance practices, and there was no enforcement, according to the PFI.

The new standards were approved by membership in July 2008, and implementation began in February 2009. They are composed of two documents-PFI standard specifications for residential/commercial densified fuel, and PFI quality assurance/quality control program for residential/commercial densified fuels. Both can be viewed at

The standards document defines criteria for four grades of pelletized product and identifies standardized methodology for testing each parameter; the Quality Assurance/Quality Control Program document produces an industrywide quality management system for demonstrating compliance with the standards.

As the first year of implementation of the new standards passes, the PFI said it is likely some of the standards and the QA/QC Program will need to be refined through research. Topics that require research efforts include identifying agents that could corrode exposed pellet stove parts and exhaust ducting; developing a database of physical chemical and mechanical properties of pellets that can be easily utilized; specifying inorganic constituents that could lead to ash fusibility; studying air emissions that arise from the burning of pellets made from various feedstocks and additives; and the reviewing safety issues.

As PFI is a non-profit trade organization, it indicated that research funding will need to come from grants and/or institutions that already have funding and are looking for research project partners pertinent to the industries they support.

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