Positive Environment News

Biofuel From Forestry Waste Is Close - UPM-Kymmene

Date: 16-Feb-09
Country: GERMANY
Author: Michael Hogan

MUNICH - New types of green fuels produced using waste from forestry may be among the first new generation biofuels to start production, an executive from Finnish forestry and paper group UPM-Kymmenesaid on Thursday.

UPM was planning to expand into biofuel production and was currently conducting trials to produce biodiesel, bioethanol and heavy fuel oils from forest residues including tree bark, twigs and stumps, said vice president corporate relations and development Hans Sohlstrom.

Governments worldwide want second generation biofuels to replace first generation green fuels produced from foods such as corn, sugar and vegetable oils, following bitter controversy about whether biofuel production raises food prices.

"According to our plans we should have the necessary information in our hands to make decisions about the first large scale commercial unit by the middle of this year," Sohlstrom said on the sidelines of a conference on second generation biofuels organised by German commodity analysts F.O. Licht.

"However I am not saying we will make a decision as many things have changed in this financial and economic climate." Any investment could involve hundreds of millions of euros.

If current trials were positive, a start to commercial green fuel production from forest residues could be possible in 2012-2013, he said.

About three million tonnes of forestry residues was likely to be sufficient to produce 200,000 tonnes of biodiesel.

"We believe there are large volumes of residues that could be used for biofuel production in Europe and elsewhere," he said. "Around half of a tree's biomass is currently left as residue which cannot be used for timber or paper production."

BIO JET FUEL

Global airlines are likely to use a wide range of new generation bio-jetfuels in coming years rather than fuel from a single crop or plant type, the conference heard from Christian Schuchert, strategy director for Boeing in Germany.

Airline biofuel use could start rising perceptibly from 2010 if the financial crisis does not choke investment in production projects, he said.

Bio-Jet fuels produced from camelina, a type of flax, had already been developed.

Jet fuels from the oilseed jatropha were expected in two to three years, from hydrophyte aquatic plants in two to four years and from algae in eight to ten years, Schuchert said.

Fuels will have to be strictly quality-certified by authorities but attention should be focused on the technical qualities of the fuel rather than the feedstock it was produced from, he said.

Producing new generation bio jet fuels could give developing countries a chance for new economic activity which could also support their national airlines, he said.

(Reporting by Michael Hogan; Editing by Keiron Henderson)

Reuters
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