Using forest residues and construction waste as feedstocks, the Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance (NARA) aims to create a sustainable industry to produce aviation biofuels and important co-products. The project in particular focuses on overcoming key obstacles that prevent wood-based jet fuel and petrochemical substitutes from being economically viable.
NARA researchers envision developing a new, viable, aviation fuel industry using wood residuals in the Pacific Northwest where forests cover almost half of the region. The Northwest has established oil refining, wood processing facilities and distribution assets as well as a significant aviation industry.
The project will focus on increasing the profitability of wood-based fuels through development of high-value, bio-based co-products to replace petrochemicals that are used in products such as plastics. A major goal will be to address how to better understand and use wood lignin, a glue-like material constituting up to about 30 percent of some woods. Lignin is often considered to be one of the key issues adversely affecting economic viability for production of wood-derived plant chemical products.
Key challenges to be overcome by NARA include resolving various scientific/technical obstacles that prevent economic viability. Sustainability – economic, environmental, and social – is also key. NARA researchers will use specific metrics to assess and evaluate technological progress against critical milestones throughout the project.