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Wood Fuels Could Fly

November 21, 2019

A major milestone was reached this week with the publication of a report assessing the potential of producing liquid fuels from forest residues. An extensive three-year project led by NORAM and the University of British Columbia showed that thermochemical liquefaction technologies offered viable routes to producing fuels, notably biojet, with significantly lower carbon intensities than petroleum-derived jet fuel.

A consortium of aviation industry stakeholders, working together under the mantle of Canada’s Green Aviation Research and Development Network (GARDN), tasked laboratories in Canada and the USA with the challenge of upgrading several different biocrudes derived from wood into a range of liquid fuels with a lower overall carbon footprint than their petroleum equivalents. Biocrudes produced by fast pyrolysis, catalytic pyrolysis and hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL) were successfully upgraded to produce jet fractions demonstrating a high level of compliance with general standards for jet fuel based on ASTM certification. A comprehensive Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) demonstrated that significant emission reductions were possible with many of the pathways.

As part of what amounts to the first integrated study carried out within the current policy framework, a provisional supply-chain analysis was also carried out in British Columbia to provide supporting data. An engineering concept for a demonstration-scale biocrude production and upgrading facility was developed that considered locations, general equipment requirements and supply chain. The project represents a significant achievement in advancing the knowledge and identifying key challenges of producing biojet fuels through thermochemical liquefaction technologies.

> We acknowledge the contribution of IEA Bioenergy Task 39 in hosting this report on their website and distributing through their communication channels. The report can be downloaded for free from the website at http://task39.ieabioenergy.com/publications/

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