Studying Woody Biomass For Energy Across The U.S.

Woody biomass includes stems, small branches, treetops, needles, leaves, and sometimes the roots of trees and shrubs. These materials are byproducts of forest management activities such as thinning, but they can also be a valuable source of bioenergy. Five U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS) scientists – John Stanturf, Emile Gardiner, Leslie Groom, Dana […]

Woody biomass includes stems, small branches, treetops, needles, leaves, and sometimes the roots of trees and shrubs. These materials are byproducts of forest management activities such as thinning, but they can also be a valuable source of bioenergy.

Five U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS) scientists – John Stanturf, Emile Gardiner, Leslie Groom, Dana Mitchell and James Perdue – recently contributed to four review articles that were part of a special issue of the journal BioEnergy Research. SRS researchers collaborated on the journal articles with scientists and engineers from a number of universities and other agencies, including the Forest Service Northern Research Station, Pacific Northwest Research Station, and Forest Products Laboratory, as well as the USDA Agricultural Research Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The articles cover all aspects of the bioenergy supply chain – from cultivation in fields or forests, to harvest, to conversion into a final product. Since 2009, Forest Service scientists and engineers have contributed to more than 60 peer-reviewed journal articles about forest operations – a branch of industrial engineering that includes designing, implementing, or improving technologies in the forest sector – and logistics, which includes the harvest, handling, processing, transportation, and storage of woody biomass.

“In practice, operations and logistics blend science, engineering, and management functions to efficiently and effectively meet the needs of customers and society,” says Mitchell, a coauthor of one of the papers. “Forests provide products like biomass, and also help clean the water and air, offer food and shelter to wildlife, and provide opportunities for recreation and other benefits.”

In addition, some tree species, or genotypes within a species, have extra abilities and can help remove chloride, selenium, heavy metals, and other pollutants from former landfill sites, old mine tailings, and other contaminated areas. The process is called phytoremediation, and poplars, willows, and their hybrids are especially effective. These species are also used across the globe to generate bioenergy, and are promising candidates for U.S. bioenergy operations.

From the USFS Southern Research Station: http://www.srs.fs.usda.gov/compass/2016/06/23/studying-woody-biomass-for-energy-across-the-u-s/

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