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Forest Thinning Residues as a Potential Fuel Source

[+] Author Affiliations
Alexander L. Brown, Richard A. Jepsen

Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, NM

Paper No. IMECE2009-11679, pp. 35-36; 2 pages
  • ASME 2009 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Volume 3: Combustion Science and Engineering
  • Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA, November 13–19, 2009
  • Conference Sponsors: ASME
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4376-5 | eISBN: 978-0-7918-3863-1
  • Copyright © 2009 by ASME


Northern New Mexico forests are characterized predominantly by small (i.e. around 10 cm diameter), densely populated conifers. Land managers, both private and government, often thin the forests to reduce the risks from wildland fire. Thinned residues typically amount to approximately 20 to 50 tons per acre. With no obvious market use for these small thinning residues, they are presently either discarded on the ground, or burnt as waste. Through a small business assistance initiative, Sandia National Laboratories is helping to identify and promote process improvements. Several productive uses of the residues have been evaluated, and are presented. The concept of a mobile pyrolysis unit is presently being examined in more detail for several pragmatic reasons. It could remove a significant fraction of the mass as a dense liquid that could be shipped to a refinery for conversion to a fossil fuel additive or substitute. Also, it is a process that is sufficiently well self contained that it could be reasonably sized for a mobile system. Present issues with the concept are addressed, including yield, benefit, and cost.

Copyright © 2009 by ASME



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