USDA funds project to convert beetle-killed trees to biofuel

By Staff | December 30, 2013

The USDA has awarded nearly $10 million to a consortium of academic, industry and government organizations to research the use of insect-killed trees in the Rocky Mountains as bioenergy feedstock. The consortium, led by Colorado State University, will explore recent advances in thermochemical conversion technologies that enable the production of onsite liquid biofuel and coproduct production. 

The project is working with Greenwood Village, Colo.-based Cool Planet Energy Systems. The company’s prototype pyrolysis system can be tailored to the amount of feedstock available, enabling it to be deployed near stands of beetle-killed timber. The ability to localize production lowers the cost of wood harvest and transportation. 

The award was made under the USDA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, a program authorized by the Farm Bill. The USDA estimates pine and spruce bark beetles infestations have impacted more than 42 million acres of forestland since 1996.