The research consortium CORRIM has largely completed the research for analyzing the life cycle impacts for collecting feedstocks for a sample range of alternative liquid fuel processing methods. This analysis follows a decade of research on the life cycle impacts of industrial materials used in housing and like those earlier studies includes integration of impacts back to the forest source for different forest types and regions. A series of articles are underway for publication in a special issue of the Forest Products Journal following up on the production of a number of interactive videos on each phase of research presented at the International Forest Products Society annual meeting in June 2011 – http://www.corrim.org/presentations/video/2011/FPS_Biomass/index.asp
To reduce the lag time in making public completed and reviewed linked articles in a special issue, an introductory summary article was reviewed and published as a feature article available open source in the journal Forests (see attached). A press release was prepared but distribution delayed to avoid confusion with several releases on the Journal of Forestry’s Special Issue: Managing Forests Because Carbon Matters. An advanced copy of the press release that is beginning to be circulated is attached along with the feature article.
Important issues are raised in how to consider the tradeoffs that exist between serving carbon mitigation objectives relative to energy independence. The carbon efficiency in refining the biomass into liquid fuels that can reduce emissions from gasoline and contribute to energy independence are significantly lower than for other uses of biomass, even the lower grades of biomass waste. Yet the economic value of energy independence contributing to increased domestic jobs and savings from reduced capital outflows may be more important than carbon mitigation objectives alone.
The article briefly considers the hierarchical range of biomass uses from products with high leverage to reduce emissions to biofuels with much lower contributions to emission reductions but the potential to more directly reduce energy imports.
College of Environment
U. of Washington