Southern Woody Biomass to Energy Products

Issue: National assessments of energy use highlight the need to develop renewable alternatives for electricity, heat, and liquid fuels. While biomass supply estimates have shown that nearly 300 million dry tons of woody biomass could be available each year, a key question is how to convert the wood into economically viable energy products.


Study Description:Research work at the Utilization of Forest Resources Unit in Pineville, LA is developing basic knowledge to improve biomass conversion processes. Work is in two principal areas:

  • Effect of Feedstock on Synthesis Gas- This has been our predominant area of interest. We have conducted numerous gasification runs on a variety of feedstocks to determine thermochemical conversion products. In addition to syngas composition, we have also been determining thermal (e.g. calorimetry and thermogravimetric analyses) as well as physical (e.g. ash content) properties. We have tested feedstocks in conjunction with site productivity studies and with particular species and clonal sources.

  • The latest extension of this work has been to collect and compress the syngas products to explore secondary conversion to liquid fuels. Working with LSU we are examining various syngas/catalyst conversions. Syngas passes over a catalyst (or series of catalysts) under high temperature and pressure. The resultant liquid that forms is a function of the catalyst coupled with temperature and pressure conditions. Community Power Corporation, the manufacturer of our biomass gasification system, is also developing a liquid fuel unit. We will be supplying woody feedstocks for testing in their initial demonstration unit.