5.07.00 - Biorefinery
This Group covers the sustainable use, production and processing of renewable forest biomass for energy and useful chemicals. The areas of research of interest to members are direct combustion and gasification for heat, power and gaseous fuel production and liquid fuel production namely ethanol and methanol through biochemical and thermal conversion. Other interests are: charcoal production for solid fuels, metallurgical use and activated carbon. Research into other chemicals from wood include lignin, hemicellulose, cellulose and their derivatives, essential oils, pyrolysis derived polyphenols for adhesives.
At the Third Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Kyoto in December 1997, 166 countries adopted a protocol to limit greenhouse emissions through reductions in the burning of fossil fuels. The production and use of forest biomass energy is greenhouse neutral while the expansion of plantation forestry is a positive benefit to greenhouse gas reduction through increasing the forests as a carbon sink.
Growing fuelwood sustainably in community woodlots and plantations using fast growing species would assist developing nations meet domestic fuel requirements. The transportation logistics to supply population centres and the development and implementation of efficient and effective stoves are important issues. For countries with large forest based industries, there are often opportunities to utilise both forestry and sawmill residues in an integrated way for energy and chemicals production which would greatly improve efficiency. The high degree of integration of the petrochemical industry in producing energy, chemical and material products has been largely responsible for its success. In contrast, solid wood production often utilise less than 20% of the standing tree leaving the rest behind as residues.
Electricity generation from forest biomass is receiving increasing attention as the power industry, based on fossil fuels, has been a major emitter of greenhouse gases. New technologies for power generation using gasification and combined cycle has received more attention in recent years which has potential to make efficient and effective use of the fuel. This would assist in overcoming the tyranny of distance between some regional forests and population centres using transmission lines from forest based power stations.
Wood carbon is an important metallurgical reductant for iron and steel making and has supported a large industry despite the dominance of the fossil resource coal in this sector. Its main advantage is its low impurity levels which is important for a high quality product. There is interest in the manufacture of high purity silicon metal using wood carbon for chemical silcone production and the preparation of silicones with special properties for the impregnation of wood.
The objectives of the Group are to improve the sustainable production and utilisation of the forest biomass resource for energy and chemicals through:
- Encouraging research and development of better products, processes and methods in this area.
- Encourage international meetings and workshops for researchers to exchange ideas and findings.
- Coordinating, presenting and discussing research results.
- Promoting the application and implementation of the results.
The Research Group Coordinator and Deputy are responsible for facilitating communications with Group members and with Working Party Officers. They also prepare annual progress reports for IUFRO and reports for IUFRO Congresses and Conferences.
Researchers who are interested in this area of energy and chemicals from forest biomass should contact any of the leaders. New members are welcomed and are encouraged to become involved in our meetings and workshops.