Forests are no longer seen as purely sources of harvestable fuel, but a significant and relatively untapped resource for renewable technology. Sustainable products derived from wood-based materials have emerged as a novel market rising in popularity, and the desire to waste none of the wood that may be removed from forests has also led to innovative ways of reusing and repurposing forest waste.
Here, we took a look at three forest-based projects developing industry-leading solutions.
Blockchain for sustainable forest products
This month, blockchain company iov42 launched its new initiative – Timber Chain. The scheme was established with forest supply chain sustainability at its heart, combining blockchain with third party certification to ensure transparency around timber distribution.
The World Bank Estimates that as much as 30% of wood products come from illegally-sourced timber, generating losses of around $15bn in revenue every year. Iov42’s new tech seeks to cut these losses, allowing individuals and companies throughout the supply chain to track and monitor exactly where their products have come from. While the tech has so far only been trialled on forest-based products, the firm has voiced hopes that it could be applied to any climate-impacted commodity, such as palm oil or rubber.
Earlier this month, Finnish forest-product manufacturer Stora Enso opened the doors of its pilot facility developing carbon-based batteries. These novel battery types are made from lignin – a material extracted from waste wood products that acts as an organic alternative to the graphite found in traditional batteries. As the global battery market is only expected to continue growing, finding sustainable alternatives to traditional materials is a must, and Stora Enso has said it believe its carbon based-anodes can meet the market’s growing demand. Applications for the new bio-based battery include EV’s, as well as larger-scale power storage units.
The production facility in Sunila, Finland has been producing lignin at an industrial scale since 2015, with the biorefinery’s estimated annual production capacity at 50,000 tonnes.
Negative-Carbon Heating Fuel Made from Forest Waste
Earlier this month, biofuel producer Biofine Developments Northeast (BDNE) announced its plans to build a biorefinery site in the town of Lincoln, Maine, converting forest waste into the biofuel ethyl levulinate (EL).
As EL uses forest waste as its base, it’s categorised as carbon negative and so provides a solution that not only helps to reduce emissions but actually allows regions to achieve a negative carbon status. It is estimated that the EL produced at the new plant will help to cut Maine’s greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 40,000 metric tonnes every year – equivalent to carbon captured by 49,000 acres of forest.
The fuel can be used as an alternative to home heating oil, or can be blended with other renewable fuels. Its efficacy has previously been tested and proven by the National Oilheat Research Alliance, and is endorsed by the National Energy & Fuels Institute.