Weyerhaeuser has announced plans to enter a consortium that will study the feasibility of producing fuel for U.S. commercial and military jets from wood and wood waste in the Pacific Northwest.
The Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance consortium, led by Washington State University, will be funded by a five-year, $40 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The study aims to address the urgent national need for a domestic biofuel alternative for U.S. commercial and military air fleets, according to the announcement. The project also will focus on increasing the profitability of wood-based fuels through development of high value, bio-based co-products to replace petrochemicals used in products such as plastics.
"The consortium is designed to capitalize on the unique contributions of the participants, and Weyerhaeuser is pleased to be part of that," said Dan Fulton, Weyerhaeuser president and CEO. "Sustainability is absolutely critical to the successful production of feedstocks and aviation biofuel on an economical scale, and we're proud to bring more than a century of forest science and innovative solutions to the effort."
As a subcontractor to the WSU-led grant, Weyerhaeuser will focus on three areas:
• Determining the feasibility of sustainable production of woody feedstocks for use in biofuel and value-added products;
• Understanding how to more cost-effectively collect currently under-utilized harvest material; and
• Exploring ways to convert woody biomass lignin components into value-added bio products.
As part of its involvement, Weyerhaeuser will establish a new research site near Springfield, Ore., to better understand the effect of forest management practices on soil, water and wildlife. The site is intended to provide information on the effect of biomass removal, compaction and fertilization on soil, water and wildlife. Weyerhaeuser scientists Greg Johnson and Scott Holub will lead the study.
Weyerhaeuser also will work with collaborators to understand how to develop more cost-effective ways to collect currently underutilized harvest residuals for emerging bio-fuel and bio-product applications. Gevan Marrs is the lead Weyerhaeuser scientist on the aspect.
Another aspect of the study will involve lignin, the second most abundant polymer in nature, used mainly today in basic applications, such as being burned for green energy in the pulp mills or as an additive in cements. Weyerhaeuser will study ways to create high-value bio products from residual lignin. John Westland is the Weyerhaeuser lead on the lignin study.