Wood-to-energy industry highlighted

A report by the University of Tennessee Office of Bioenergy Programs and the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities Inc., reviews the current state of research and development of technologies for utilizing wood for the production of energy.

The peer-reviewed report entitled “Wood to Energy: A State of the Science and Technology” characterizes industry process designs, stage of development or commercialization, and suitability for the marketplace. It also provides an analysis of market sustainability, including opportunities and barriers, of wood to energy production.

Wood is the most important source of renewable energy in the United States and a primary source of fuel for much of the world. Whether it is as simple as a campfire, or as sophisticated as producing ethanol, wood has a number of inherent advantages that ensure it will continue to be an important biofuel in the future.

Carlton Owen, president and CEO of the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities, said, “As we and our partners consider how best to invest in and support the woody biomass industry — both that associated with the traditional forest products industry as well as the emerging alternative energy sector — it is vitally important that we have a sound understanding of the current state of the science and technology.

“This report should aid in providing that foundation and the accompanying Wood2Energy database will ensure a more accurate picture of where things are currently happening.”

Sam Jackson, a researcher with the UT Office of Bioenergy Programs and leader of the Wood2Energy Project, says renewable fuels industries will continue to include wood energy in their business models. “Wood is a dominant biomass source and will play a critical role in expanding bioenergy availability in the future,” Jackson said.

The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities recently announced creation of a database of industrial and selected community-scale users of wood to energy facilities across North America. The searchable database is open to anyone with interest in the state of wood to energy conversion at a national, state/provincial or local operating level. The database is available online at http://www.wood2energy.org.

Data are currently being revised and updated so watch for a new version of the database to be available soon.

The Wood2Energy project and report was developed by the University of Tennessee Office of Bioenergy Programs with funding from the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities, American Forest and Paper Association, Forest Products Association of Canada as well as the respective federal natural resources agencies from the U.S. and Canada — the USDA Forest Service and Natural Resources Canada.

Additional assistance was provided by the Sun Grant Initiative, for which the University of Tennessee AgResearch program manages the Southeastern Regional Sun Grant Center. The full state of the science report is available for download at www.usendowment.org or www.wood2energy.org.

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