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Evaluating near-woods processing of post-harvest forest residues for energy production

Photo of Pilot scale near-woods torrefaction system operated at Samoa, CA. Pilot scale near-woods torrefaction system operated at Samoa, CA. Snapshot : Forest Service researchers are evaluating the environmental viability of converting post-harvest forest residues into high-quality bioenergy products, such as briquette and torrefied briquette, as viable fossil fuel replacements using near-woods processing. Use of renewable biofuel products can help mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and other adverse environmental impacts resulting from fossil fuel combustion.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Bergman, Richard, PhDAlanya-Rosenbaum, Sevda
Research Location : Forest Products Laboratory
Research Station : Forest Products Laboratory (FPL)
Year : 2017
Highlight ID : 1293


The objective of this Forest Service study was to evaluate the environmental impacts associated with converting post-harvest forest residues left to air dry into renewable bioenergy products: briquettes and torrefied briquettes. Near-woods operation of bioconversion technologies were investigated to overcome the logistic challenges of forest residue availability as biofuel. Data were generated as a part of the Waste-to-Wisdom project through a pilot scale near-woods integrated operations of torrefier and briquetter units. Life cycle assessment tool was used for environmental sustainability assessment, evaluating the entire supply chain of production using a cradle-to-grave approach. Substituting torrefied briquettes and briquettes for fossil fuels revealed notable decreases in greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, valorization of low-value forest residues to produce bioenergy carriers resulted in considerable environmental advantage from avoided pile-and-burn emissions. The study showed that forced drying to the desired moisture content for processing into final products had considerable contribution to the global warming impact although most drying of the feedstock occurred naturally while drying in the forest before collection. Therefore, use of high-efficiency dryer systems and using field-dried feedstock with lower moisture content would have crucial impact on the overall system sustainability and be necessary to achieve optimal reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • Plumas National Forest
  • Humboldt State University Oregon State University University of Washington Bureau of Land Management Biochar Solutions Inc. Forest Concepts Inc. Norris Thermal Tech. Pellet Fuels Institute Forest Business Network Green Diamond Resources Co. Steve Morris L