Sustainable production of biofuels from forest residues in Washington State– an interdisciplinary approach
Thursday, May 1, 2014: 2:45 PM
Grand Ballroom F-G, lobby level (Hilton Clearwater Beach)
Richard Gustafson, Neethi Nagarajan, George Watson, Seth Jorgensen, Renata Bura, Danny Brent, Sergey Rabotyagov, Rachel St.John, Sandor Toth, Andrew Cook, Luke Rogers, Caitlin Singer, Stanley Asah, Jacob Lipson, Clare Ryan, Jordan Crawford and Erik L. Budsberg, School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
The University of Washington recently completed a multidisciplinary assessment of using softwood forest residuals to produce biofuels using bioconversion in Washington State.  We assessed technical feasibility, economic viability, environmental impact, and social acceptability of this prospective industry.  Pretreatment experiments were performed to determine process yields and optimal processing conditions. Results of the pretreatment experiments were used to develop rigorous ASPEN biorefinery models.  Techno/economic and LCA investigations applied the ASPEN models to examine economic viability and environmental impacts. A lands resource study was completed to assess biomass availability and to establish raw material supply curves.  Data from the lands study were combined with techno/economic results to conduct an optimization that establishes the best location and optimal size for a biorefinery in Washington. Land use change implications from having a forest residual based biofuels industry were assessed as part of the economic analysis.  Finally, an examination of the effect of Washington State polices on a potential biofuel industry and a general assessment of the social acceptability of that industry were conducted.

In this presentation we will discuss the results from each of the projects in this research program. In general, it was found that establishing a biofuels industry using forest residuals in Washington will be challenging.  Forest residuals are difficult to convert and the amount of available makes it difficult to build large biorefineries without having to ship material a considerable distance. We will also discuss how this multidisciplinary program provided for an excellent educational experience for graduate students and undergraduates.