• Aug 21st 2007 at 8:03PM
  • 10

Take a walk down your street, or almost any street in America. What you will find are "stick-built" houses made mostly from softwoods. An important softwood is the pine tree, which is very commonly used in construction. The reason pine is often selected is because it grows very quickly and grows well in many areas. The needles also tend to keep other types of trees and vegetation from sprouting up, which works well in the plantations where the trees are grown and harvested. Many of these same attributes are being looked at for producing biofuels. As cellulosic biofuels are being developed, it is also important to consider where to get the biomass from, which is why an in-depth study of the conifer tree is being undertaken. Researchers plan to to sequence and catalog conifer genes so that they can pick out the woods which are best suited for particular purposes, including biofuels. According to Jeffrey Dean, professor of forest biotechnology in the University of Georgia Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, "Loblolly pine is a primary target for this research project because of its current commercial importance in the southeastern United States, as well as its potential for providing biomass to future biofuels markets." Later, other species such as the coastal redwood will be added. Which will come first, the technology to cheaply create the cellulosic biofuels or the finding of the perfect biomass source?

[Source: University of Georgia]



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 10 Comments
      • 8 Years Ago
      #5 et al.--You're wrong. There are millions of tons of waste wood, harvest residue, and unmercheantable timber that go to waste each year. It's there, we just have to work on the most efficient ways of gathering and processing it. As a side note, the great thing about stuff going to landfills is that it is a point source--it's already concentrated in one place.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Owain Ozymandias Buck- I agree with ONE important difference.

      Only the FREE market can properly sort things out. Government intervention will allow lobbyists to influence the most profitable choices (for their handlers) and not necessarily the best overall choices for consumers. This is one of the many dangers of taxpayer funded subsidies. Although I despise all types of welfare, corporate welfare is the worst of all. How dare they give our tax money to “for profit” corporations!!!!
      • 8 Years Ago
      This article is about selecting and using the fastest growing conifer trees for cellosic biofuel. It is not about using waste from existing industry or forest floor scraps.

      Bill is correct in that there is a difference between waste and byproducts. There is very little waste in agriculture. Byproducts are either used to manufacture other products or spread on the fields as natural fertilizer. The wood product industry byproducts are used for such things as fiber board, pastes and landscaping mulch etc.

      Now, the term "better use" of byproduct would make a good debate as would the term "food as fuel" as in the earlier article regarding using cows milk to produce ethanol instead of powdering it and shipping it to starving children.

      You know” Save the earth, starve a child” which is the new green movement slogan. Hell, we’re over populated anyway, right?
      • 8 Years Ago
      There really isn't any significant waste to use for fuel.

      Wood waste at the mill is reprocessed into products like particleboard.

      Stick with grasses like switchgrass if you want a cellulose feedstock.
      • 8 Years Ago
      What about industrial Hemp?
      • 8 Years Ago
      ==Think about all of the scrap wood==

      Unless it would end up in a landfill, it's not scrap wood.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Tim notes the big problem with biomass in general.

      In the absence of subsidies biomass has a higher economic value for food or finished products than for energy.

      E.g., ethanol plants would be turning out high-fructose corn syrup instead of fuel.

      Pulp mills can outbid a power plant for wood chips for paper.

      Wood waste (in the forest) is left or burned, because transportation isn't free.

      Grasses, unlike wood, don't have such alternate uses (most would be new crops)

      They're the better feedstock for cellulosic ethanol production.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Cut down trees to save the environment? Now THAT'S irony! HA HA HA HA

      Me thinks the greenies are a little confused.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Tim, only sorta. Think about all of the scrap wood, mostly pine, that is left from lumberyards. If there is a type of pine that they find is good for biofuels, using the waste for them might make the yard or the plantation more profit then other options, like mdf or plywood etc.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Well, the market will inevitably shake things out. Given the right price point, anything could be gathered, processed and hauled.

      Grasses aren't necessarily better feedstocks. You seem to take the position that all timber is spoken for. Have you tried to sell any pine trees lately? Privately held forest resources are vastly underutilized.
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