2023 - Volume #47, Issue #2, Page #04[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Sawdust “Bricks” For Woodstoves
Wood bricks offer a lot of appeal as an indoor heat source. They are easy to stack and take up less room than traditional wood logs. Borntrager’s bricks are shrink-wrapped in bundles of sixteen for extra storage convenience. Though stoves and heating needs differ, most users can expect each bundle to burn for 10 to 12 hrs. And, as each bundle weighs just 32 lbs., they are an ideal heating option for the elderly and disabled. Clean-up is another positive, as the bricks produce about 60 percent less ash than regular wood. There’s also far less smoke produced as they burn.
While the bricks can be used in both wood and coal stoves, they tend to work best in wood stoves. True Heat bricks reach about 8600 Btu per pound. This means that a ton of bricks provide the heating equivalent of 140 gals. of heating oil or 185 gals. of propane. They can also be used in outdoor grills for an easy charcoal alternative.
Part of Borntrager’s motivation for taking on the business was to provide work for his mother, who lives on the property. Since purchasing the machinery, he’s made multiple upgrades to further automate the process.
The bricks themselves are produced in a 60 by 60 facility. They are made from kiln-dried sawdust that is compacted into bricks through 135 tons of pressure. This helps the sawdust adhere into bricks without glue or other adhesives. Extreme care is taken to keep the sawdust dry before compaction, as any moisture can ruin the final bricks.
Borntrager sources his sawdust from local woodworking shops and receives it by the semi-load, each containing approximately 22 tons of sawdust. Unloading the sawdust takes 4 hrs. with a forklift.
His machine can produce one brick every 6.5 seconds, forming a pallet of bricks (the equivalent of one cord of wood) in a little over 2 hrs.
Looking forward, Borntrager plans to add many improvements to the base machine. He wants an upgrade that allows the sawdust to reach it automatically, sensors in the sawdust hoppers to track the amount and moisture level, and an automatic stacker for the bricks as they come off the assembly line.
However, finding ways to speed up the brick-making process itself would add the highest value, as it’s the most significant limiting factor for how many orders Borntrager can take on.
While most customers load their woodstoves with the bricks by the bundle, Borntrager recommends new users start out using just a few at a time so they can monitor how their stove reacts. Contact him directly for pricing and purchase information.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Mervin Borntrager, E3675 State Highway 154, Hillpoint, Wis. 53937 (ph 608-495-9079).
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