Rights: The University of Waikato Published 10 June 2008 Download

Peter Hall from Scion discusses how waste wood can be used as an energy resource.

The forestry industry already uses some of its waste wood to produce heat and steam. Sawdust and wood shavings are being used in a compressed form to make wood pellets, which can be used in fireplaces. Waste wood can also be turned into ethanol (using enzymes). Ethanol could be used to run cars and other combustion engines.


The wood residues are already utilised widely in the wood processing residues. Most of the large industrial wood processes use bark and waste wood from their processing to create heat and steam that’s required in the industrial process. Further there is developing demand for wood pellets which is sawdust and shavings which have been recompressed back into a little pellet that looks a bit like chicken feed, and those can be used in domestic or commercial fireplaces. But in an industrial scale its entirely possible to take wood and through enzymatic processing convert it into ethanol and ethanol can be used as a liquid fuel in cars. Its just a matter of what is the most cost effective, most efficient way of converting it from wood to an energy and what the demand is, because there’s no point in creating 4 million tonnes of wood pellets if there is only a demand for 1 million tonnes. But we know there is a massive demand for liquid fuels which is why there is such an interest in making liquid fuels out of biomass.

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