A wood-fueled electricity generating plant may be in your future.
In fact, the future is now in some Scandinavian countries, said Dr. Darwin Foster, Texas Cooperative Extension forestry program leader. "In Sweden, theyre already bundling up what were leaving in the forest after a timber harvest and using it as bio-fuel," Foster said. "Bio-fuel" is all-inclusive term that includes any renewable resource used to generate energy. As with ethanol distilled from small grains byproducts and methane from animal-waste, wood refuse is another renewable energy source. The key word is "renewable," Foster said. "As compared to fossil fuels which take hundreds of millennia to create and are not renewable," he said.
Using forest bio-mass – limbs, bark, tree tops – as a bio-fuel is not unheard of in the United States. Forest product manufacturing concerns already burn wood residue in steam boilers. The steam is used to drive electrical generators and supply part of the energy needed to run the plant. Other mills use "black liquor" – the lignin-rich residue of the pulp and paper industry – for heat, steam and electric power generation.
The last subject – environmental sustainability – may be expanded to educate the public, Foster said. Some people might not understand the environmental benefits of burning forest residue to produce fuel.
But the economic benefits are two-fold, he said. First it is a truly renewable resource. Trees are efficient at turning sunlight, moisture and a few basic nutrients into bio-mass. Using forest residue as bio-fuel also will utilize a resource that is being left to rot in the field.
But another important issue is carbon sequestration. Trees "breathe" in carbon dioxide, one of the major greenhouse gases. The trees "breathe out" oxygen and sequester the carbon as part of the biomass.
"Carbon is the ‘C in CO2," Foster said.
True, burning the residue emits carbon dioxide, but as most of the harvested forest mass would be used for lumber, furniture and paper, there would still be a net sequestration of carbon.
Another common concern, Foster said, was that harvesting forest residues could cause nutrient deficiencies and retard future re-forestation efforts.
But studies have shown, residues can be harvested without loss of regrowth productivity as long as a few simple precautions are taken, he said. These precautions include not taking 100 percent of the residues, avoiding harvesting on sensitive sites, and not removing residues after every harvest. In some areas, returning most of the nutrients as ash to the harvest site might be possible, he said.
"The whole point of this program is to work to reduce our dependence on non-renewable fossil fuels," Foster said.
Robert Burns | EurekAlert!
Robot on demand: Mobile machining of aircraft components with high precision
06.12.2016 | Fraunhofer IFAM
IHP presents the fastest silicon-based transistor in the world
05.12.2016 | IHP - Leibniz-Institut für innovative Mikroelektronik
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
06.12.2016 | Materials Sciences
06.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
06.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering