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pouring pellets into bin

AURI’s busy pellet lab helps Minnesota companies test new ideas

When Scott Hislop and his business partners came up with an innovative product for improving feed pellets, they knew where to get help testing their idea.

AURI’s pilot lab in Waseca includes a state-of-the-art CPM11124 commercial pellet mill and many other essential milling tools. Entrepreneurs who come to AURI to test their ideas can be confident that lab results will be similar to those in commercial settings.

“We have assisted hundreds of Minnesota companies and individuals with pellet development,” says AURI scientist Al Doering who heads the pilot lab. “We’re also working on ways to turn a wide variety of potential energy crops into solid fuel pellets.”

“We wouldn’t be nearing commercialization without AURI,” says Hislop, who manages a Mapleton hog business and co-founded American Bio-Labs. The company is preparing to market its new pellet improvement process, called Slip-Stik.

Working with AURI “speeded up development three-fold — being able to use the lab and technical expertise here,” he says. This type of development “is only possible in a lab setting like AURI’s.”

Bruce Dorendorf, president of American Bio-Labs, agrees: “A company like ours with an idea can’t go to a commercial setting to develop it. They can’t take time to do testing, and deal with plugged up dies when you don’t get it right. It takes a lab setting so we can take lots of samples. The facility here is essential.”

Here are just a few of the Minnesota companies and groups AURI has assisted with pellet development:

Alternative Energy Solutions, Altura, Minn. — Technical and pilot lab assistance to develop solid biomass pellets from crop residue and native prairie grasses for use as fuel to heat greenhouses.

Pet Care Systems, Detroit Lakes, Minn. — Technical and pilot lab assistance to identify the correct pelleting specifications for natural pet litters.

Minnesota Valley Alfalfa Producers, Raymond, Minn. — Technical and pilot lab assistance to make fuel pellets from a variety of plant residue fibers.

Hi-Tech Agro, Bloomington, Minn. — Evaluation and pilot lab testing of their flat die pellet mill, using a variety of ag fibers and feed ingredients.

Chippewa Valley Ethanol Company, Benson, Minn. — Assistance evaluating biochar densification.

University of Minnesota Southern Research and Outreach Center, Waseca, Minn. — Pilot lab assistance evaluating the densification and pelleting requirements for livestock feeds that include ag coproducts.

Riverview Dairy, Morris, Minn. — Densification of dairy digester solids into a pellet form for value-added opportunities.

Minnesota Wheat and Barley Growers — Evaluation of the potential for making barley straw pellets in a range of densities in order to pursue expanding market opportunities.

International Renewable Energy Technology Institute, Minnesota State University, Mankato — Densification of corn stover, wheat straw and prairie grass into a solid biomass fuel pellet for energy and emissions research.