Tuesday, March 15, 2011

How could forest trees play an important role as feedstock for bioenergy production?

Armand Séguin
Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service

Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability Volume 3,Issues 1-2, March 2011, Pages 90-94


In the context of finding alternative sources to liquid fossil fuels and their replacement with renewable and sustainable alternatives, the use of lignocellulosic biomass from trees has attracted increased interest. Plantation forest biomass represents a renewable resource that has been well integrated into various industrial processes. It mainly serves as feedstock for the lumber and pulp and paper industries. Lignin removal is an important technical issue for paper manufacturing and is the key challenge for the conversion of lignocellulosic feedstock into liquid transportation fuels such as ethanol. This paper reviews recent advances in plantation forestry research relevant to sustainable bioenergy production. The economic viability of tree biomass for biofuel production requires improved processing technologies to meet this challenge. In parallel, recent research advances are improving plantation trees for bioenergy and bioindustry adapted woody feedstock production through improved breeding, biotechnology and establishment of tree plantations. These purpose-grown trees also offer potential for carbon sequestration and natural forest preservation.

Research highlights

-Woody biomass offers great potential for bioenergy production.
-Recalcitrance of lignocellulosic material for ethanol production remains a major technical challenge.
-Tree plantation should build on multi-disciplinary technical advances.
-Woody feedstock productions with proper socio-economic analyses have greatest potential.

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