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Special Issue "Sustainable Biofuels From Forests: Woody Biomass"

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A special issue of Forests (ISSN 1999-4907).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2011)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Edwin H. White

SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, 345 Illick Hall, 1 Forestry Drive, Syracuse, New York 13210, USA
E-Mail
Interests: short-rotation woody crops; forest biomass feedstocks; Bioenergy; biofuels; bioproducts; tree nutrition; forests soils

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Wood biomass from plantations, short-rotation woody crops and natural forests represents a significant renewable feedstock for biofuels, bioenergy and bioproducts to replace diminishing fossil-based products.  Questions remain in some arenas concerning the sustainability of utilizing woody feedstocks for such efforts.  Wood-based biofuels, bioenergy and bioproducts have a significant potential to develop economic markets for low value and small diameter trees that should be removed in timber stand improvement harvests which will help minimize high-grading, reduce fuel hazards and increase local economic development.  Short-rotation woody crops represent an alternative crop for underutilized and abandonded farm land.  The challenge and opportunity is to harvest more woody biomass in a sustainable system while protecting and/or increasing other forest ecosystem services, eg biodiversity, productivity, wildlife habitat, recreational needs and water quality.  Impacts to be addressed include harvest volumes, site productivity including nutrients, carbon and soil erosion and infrastructure and biofuels, bioenergy and bioproducts conversion systems.  Essentially it comes down to what constitues "sustainable forest management" an issue addressed by several third-party certification efforts.

Edwin H. White
Guest Editor

Keywords

  • wood biomass
  • short-rotation woody crops
  • sustainability
  • biofuels
  • bioenergy
  • bioproducts
  • biorefinery
  • economic development

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial Sustainable Biofuels from Forests: Woody Biomass
Forests 2011, 2(4), 983; doi:10.3390/f2040983
Received: 14 November 2011 / Accepted: 15 November 2011 / Published: 15 November 2011
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (18 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The use of woody biomass feedstocks for bioenergy and bioproducts involves multiple sources of material that together create year round supplies. The main sources of woody biomass include residues from wood manufacturing industries, low value trees including logging slash in forests that are
[...] Read more.
The use of woody biomass feedstocks for bioenergy and bioproducts involves multiple sources of material that together create year round supplies. The main sources of woody biomass include residues from wood manufacturing industries, low value trees including logging slash in forests that are currently underutilized and dedicated short-rotation woody crops. Conceptually a ton of woody biomass feedstocks can replace a barrel of oil as the wood is processed (refined) through a biorefinery. As oil is refined only part of the barrel is used for liquid fuel, e.g., gasoline, while much of the carbon in oil is refined into higher value chemical products-carbon in woody biomass can be refined into the same value-added products. [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Biofuels From Forests: Woody Biomass)

Research

Jump to: Editorial, Review

Open AccessArticle Sustainable Biofuel Contributions to Carbon Mitigation and Energy Independence
Forests 2011, 2(4), 861-874; doi:10.3390/f2040861
Received: 17 August 2011 / Revised: 25 September 2011 / Accepted: 27 September 2011 / Published: 19 October 2011
Cited by 8 | PDF Full-text (445 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The growing interest in US biofuels has been motivated by two primary national policy goals, (1) to reduce carbon emissions and (2) to achieve energy independence. However, the current low cost of fossil fuels is a key barrier to investments in woody biofuel
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The growing interest in US biofuels has been motivated by two primary national policy goals, (1) to reduce carbon emissions and (2) to achieve energy independence. However, the current low cost of fossil fuels is a key barrier to investments in woody biofuel production capacity. The effectiveness of wood derived biofuels must consider not only the feedstock competition with low cost fossil fuels but also the wide range of wood products uses that displace different fossil intensive products. Alternative uses of wood result in substantially different unit processes and carbon impacts over product life cycles. We developed life cycle data for new bioprocessing and feedstock collection models in order to make life cycle comparisons of effectiveness when biofuels displace gasoline and wood products displace fossil intensive building materials. Wood products and biofuels can be joint products from the same forestland. Substantial differences in effectiveness measures are revealed as well as difficulties in valuing tradeoffs between carbon mitigation and energy independence. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Biofuels From Forests: Woody Biomass)
Open AccessArticle Assessing Bioenergy Harvest Risks: Geospatially Explicit Tools for Maintaining Soil Productivity in Western US Forests
Forests 2011, 2(3), 797-813; doi:10.3390/f2030797
Received: 21 July 2011 / Revised: 9 September 2011 / Accepted: 14 September 2011 / Published: 20 September 2011
Cited by 10 | PDF Full-text (2585 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Biomass harvesting for energy production and forest health can impact the soil resource by altering inherent chemical, physical and biological properties. These impacts raise concern about damaging sensitive forest soils, even with the prospect of maintaining vigorous forest growth through biomass harvesting operations.
[...] Read more.
Biomass harvesting for energy production and forest health can impact the soil resource by altering inherent chemical, physical and biological properties. These impacts raise concern about damaging sensitive forest soils, even with the prospect of maintaining vigorous forest growth through biomass harvesting operations. Current forest biomass harvesting research concurs that harvest impacts to the soil resource are region- and site-specific, although generalized knowledge from decades of research can be incorporated into management activities. Based upon the most current forest harvesting research, we compiled information on harvest activities that decrease, maintain or increase soil-site productivity. We then developed a soil chemical and physical property risk assessment within a geographic information system for a timber producing region within the Northern Rocky Mountain ecoregion. Digital soil and geology databases were used to construct geospatially explicit best management practices to maintain or enhance soil-site productivity. The proposed risk assessments could aid in identifying resilient soils for forest land managers considering biomass operations, policy makers contemplating expansion of biomass harvesting and investors deliberating where to locate bioenergy conversion facilities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Biofuels From Forests: Woody Biomass)
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Review

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Open AccessReview Commercializing Biorefinery Technology: A Case for the Multi-Product Pathway to a Viable Biorefinery
Forests 2011, 2(4), 929-947; doi:10.3390/f2040929
Received: 20 July 2011 / Revised: 30 September 2011 / Accepted: 1 November 2011 / Published: 9 November 2011
Cited by 16 | PDF Full-text (824 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
While there may be many reasons why very interesting science ideas never reach commercial practice, one of the more prevalent is that the reaction or process, which is scientifically possible, cannot be made efficient enough to achieve economic viability. One pathway to economic
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While there may be many reasons why very interesting science ideas never reach commercial practice, one of the more prevalent is that the reaction or process, which is scientifically possible, cannot be made efficient enough to achieve economic viability. One pathway to economic viability for many business sectors is the multi-product portfolio. Research, development, and deployment of viable biorefinery technology must meld sound science with engineering and business economics. It is virtually axiomatic that increased value can be generated by isolating relatively pure substances from heterogeneous raw materials. Woody biomass is a heterogeneous raw material consisting of the major structural components, cellulose, lignin, and hemicelluloses, as well as minor components, such as extractives and ash. Cellulose is a linear homopolymer of D-glucopyrano-units with β-D(1®4) connections and is the wood component most resistant to chemical and biological degradation. Lignin is a macromolecule of phenylpropanoid units, second to cellulose in bio-resistance, and is the key component that is sought for removal from woody biomass in chemical pulping. Hemicelluloses are a collection of heteropolysaccharides, comprised mainly of 5- and 6-carbon sugars. Extractives, some of which have high commercial value, are a collection of low molecular weight organic and inorganic woody materials that can be removed, to some extent, under mild conditions. Applied Biorefinery Sciences, LLC (a private, New York, USA based company) is commercializing a value-optimization pathway (the ABS Process™) for generating a multi-product portfolio by isolating and recovering homogeneous substances from each of the above mentioned major and minor woody biomass components. The ABS Process™ incorporates the patent pending, core biorefinery technology, “hot water extraction”, as developed at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF). Hot water extraction in the absence of mineral acids and bases is preferred because of its ability to generate multiple high value output products without chemical input, recovery, or disposal costs. Instead of added chemicals in the cooking phase, the ABS Process™ relies upon an autocatalytic reaction in which acetyl groups, bound through an ester linkage to hemicellulose chains, are hydrolyzed at high temperature in water. The resulting acidic conditions (final pH ~3.5) and temperatures of 160–170 °C permit further solubilization and diffusion of oligomeric 5- and 6-carbon sugars, acetic acid, aromatic substances, monomeric sugars, and other trace compounds into the extract solution. These conditions also avoid extensive degradation of monosaccharides, enabling membrane fractionation and other chemical separation techniques to be used in the following separations. A range of separation techniques are applied on the extract solution to isolate and purify fermentable sugars, acetic acid, lignin, furfural, formic acid, other hemicellulose related compounds, lignin, lignin degradation products, and phenolic extractives for commercial sale. The extracted lignocellulosic biomass, with reduced hemicellulose content and is thus less heterogeneous, carries the value-added advantages of: (1) enhanced product characteristics, and (2) reduced energy and chemical manufacturing costs. Thus, by fractionating woody biomass into more homogeneous substances, the ABS Process™ holds potential as an economically viable pathway for capturing sustainable, renewable value not currently realized from lignocellulosic biomass. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Biofuels From Forests: Woody Biomass)

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