Pelletizing is a process in which material is turned into small dry pellets. It has a wide range of applications, and it is a commonly used industrial process all over the world, seen everywhere from plants that make animal feed to recycling facilities processing materials for reuse. This process is usually accomplished with a specialized machine called a pelletizer, which can operate in a number of different ways, depending on the material being transformed.
One classic use of this process is in plastics manufacturing. Raw and recycled plastics being reprocessed are often converted into pellets because this form is easy to handle and transport. To use the pellets, a manufacturer introduces them to equipment used in plastics molding, which melts them. The liquid mixture is shot into molds, extruded, or otherwise processed to make a finished plastic product. Known as nurdles, plastic pellets come in a range of colors and types for manufacturing use.
Animal feed is also pelletized. This type of feed is produced by grinding constituent ingredients to make a mash, which can be turned into pellets and allowed to dry before packaging. Dry animal feed is lighter and easier to handle, and turning it into small pieces allows companies to create a range of feed blends for different animals, with various additives as needed. The feed can be eaten dry or rehydrated to make a soft mash for animals that prefer soft food.
Fuels can be pelletized as well. Scrap wood and paper products are turned into pellets so that they can be burned in stoves, and other types of fuel may be sold this way as well. Pelletization of fuels is a popular way to ensure that excess materials are not wasted, but rather repackaged in a way which makes them usable. This is environmentally friendly in addition to cost effective, turning a former discard into an item of value.
Some metals are turned into pellets during production, creating pieces of standard sizes used during the refining process. Fertilizers can also be processed this way. This form is a popular, time-release fertilizer product in many regions of the world and is readily available from a number of sources. It is even possible to obtain organic fertilizer products in the form, for people who prefer a dry and tidy way to deliver nutrients to their gardens.
Certain pharmaceuticals may be produced in pelletized form to control dosage, especially with time release medications. In this case, the bits are usually small enough to be packed inside a capsule, which is swallowed whole. As the coating on the capsule breaks down, it releases the pellets, which deliver medication to the body.