Universities Develop Models to Determine Suitable Sites for Biorefineries


Researchers from Washington State University, Oregon State University, and the University of Montana, have devised new methods to estimate the amount of forest residue that would be available for wood-based biorefineries to use. The resulting model could help determine sites for future biorefineries by providing a better understanding of the availability of forest residue in the region.

Wood-based biorefineries use forest residue to make isobutanol and then to convert it into jet fuel. Last November, Alaska Airlines used a blend of traditional  and wood-based fuel to fly from Seattle to Washington D.C. The wood-based fuel came from timber harvested in the Pacific Northwest, which has some of the most extensive forest cover in the nation and a high potential for wood-based biorefineries. Jet biofuels can reduce the environmental impact of aviation, empower rural economies and increase the nation's energy security.

Two methods were used to estimate feedstock availability. One was based on publicly available data and the other used a bioeconomic model to simulate forest growth and harvest through time, based on market demand for timber. The researchers also created models that simulate the harvest and the resulting forest residue at several locations across the country and then compared their simulations against data gathered by the University of Montana.

The researchers also plan to expand into federal lands and use data from there.


This article is part of the Crop Biotech Update, a weekly summary of world developments in agri-biotech for developing countries, produced by the Global Knowledge Center on Crop Biotechnology, International Service for the Aquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications SEAsiaCenter (ISAAA)

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