Wood Biofuel Industry Rising In Pacific Northwest

A recently awarded U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) grant will help launch a viable, sustainable biofuels industry in the Pacific Northwest. The $40 million grant directs Washington State University and the University of Washington to create the Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance (NARA). The substantial grant will help the nation develop renewable energy resources from forest […]

A recently awarded U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) grant will help launch a viable, sustainable biofuels industry in the Pacific Northwest. The $40 million grant directs Washington State University and the University of Washington to create the Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance (NARA). The substantial grant will help the nation develop renewable energy resources from forest byproducts such as wood chips and sawdust.

The NARA members include scientists from the Forest Service and other government laboratories, public universities, and private industry throughout the northwest. Four teams will conduct research on feedstocks, conversion, systems metrics, and education and outreach.

The teams plan to identify communities in each of the four states that comprise the NARA project (Idaho, Oregon, Montana, and Washington) for possible development of biorefineries, and will serve as a conduit between researchers and community stakeholders, helping to transfer the science and technology of biofuels and important co-products to economic development in northwest communities.

The NARA will be conducting traditional extension activities, including providing workshops, webinars, and newsletters, with the aim of helping communities and companies throughout the Pacific Northwest determine their role in building a sustainable biofuels infrastructure and moving toward the establishment of a biofuels-based economy, while at the same time forming regional alliances and identifying communities that might fit into the supply chain.

“This project is important because it provides a perfect opportunity to address several critical issues, from decreasing the nation’s dependency on petroleum products to promoting resiliency and economic stability in forest-based communities,” commented Eini Lowell, a research forest products technologist at the Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest Research Station.

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