NARA 2014 annual meeting participants at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, WA.
NARA 2014 annual meeting participants at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, WA.

NARA just wrapped up its 2014 annual meeting held September 15-17th at the Museum of Flight in Seattle WA. This annual gathering provides the over 150 NARA members, drawn from 22 organizations, the NARA Advisory Board and USDA-NIFA representatives an opportunity to hear updates from all NARA teams plus coordinate and plan future work.

NARA Co-Project Director Michael Wolcott provided an opening presentation that provided project background.

Updates on sustainability assessments

This year, NARA invited over 100 individuals outside of the NARA organization to attend a one-day series of presentations and panel discussions devoted to NARA’s work on the economic, social and environmental sustainability of using wood residuals to make biojet fuel and other bio-related co-products. The invited guests provided critical recommendations and perspectives to NARA’s work.

Steven Thomas with the Department of Energy contributes to the discussion at the 2014 NARA annual meeting
Steven Thomas with the Department of Energy contributes to the discussion at the 2014 NARA annual meeting

Sustainability presentations available for viewing

Economic viability

Economic viability is a key component of NARA’s sustainability assessment, not only to return a profit to the investing corporation but through increasing the value of the feedstock and maintaining and adding jobs to the community. Listed are the presentations given that relate to economic viability:

Community impact measurements

John Perez-Garcia

Measurement tools are being developed to assess the jobs and economic impact derived from a wood-based biorefinery operation in the Pacific Northwest. Measurement tools are described and significant costs and revenues associated with a wood-based biorefinery are discussed.

Economic aspects of sustainable biomass supply

Darius Adams

Factors that influence delivered biomass volumes and costs over time are discussed in context with a proposed biorefinery sites in Washington state.

Existing assets for plant siting

Natalie Martinkus

Facility sites in the Pacific Northwest are being evaluated for use in a wood to biofuel supply chain. Methods used to evaluate these sites and future work is discussed.

Estimating the available biomass

Kevin Boston

Methods used to determine the amount of residual woody biomass are evaluated, and biomass costs are discussed based on varied harvesting methods.

Social sustainability

NARA evaluates the social sustainability of a wood-based biofuels industry in the Pacific Northwest. Educational tools and assessments were presented that to the social sustainability work.

The informed stakeholder assessment: measuring the social acceptability of biomass and biofuels

Jillian Moroney

Preliminary results from a four-state informed stakeholder survey are discussed.

Creating an energy literacy supply chain: closing the gap from emerging science to education

Karla Bradley Eitel

Scientific research conducted by NARA is being presented to students and teachers with the intent to improve social acceptability and reduce project misconceptions.

Gaging student bioenergy literacy

Jenny Schon

Bioenergy assessment tools for K-12 students are being developed by NARA. Current and future work is described.

Education and Tribes in the Pacific Northwest

Laurel James

NARA promotes Tribal partnership projects that explore the potential economic, natural resource, and development impacts of a biojet fuel supply chain on Tribal lands and the surrounding region. A review of Pacific Northwest Tribes and the projects underway is provided along with a summary of how these projects offer educational opportunities for Tribal students.

Environmental sustainability

This working session discussed the many facets of environmental sustainability.

Environmental sustainability overview

Greg Johnson

A review is given to how NARA evaluates the environmental sustainability of a wood to biojet industry.

Air quality impacts of an aviation biofuel industry-preliminary assessments

Vikram Ravi

Key air quality issues for the Pacific Northwest are discussed and an overview of NARA’s modeling approach to evaluate how a wood to biojet industry would affect air quality is given.

The effects of biomass removal on microbial communities

Michael Barber

Dr. Barber describes microbial research at NARA’s Long-Term Soil Productivity site.

Long-term soil productivity studies

Scott Holub and Jeff Hatten

The NARA long-term soil productivity site contains varied treatments used to measure the impacts of forest residual removal and compaction on vegetative productivity, wildlife and water retention. Site methodology and initial results are provided.

NARA nutrition and soil research

Rob Harrison

New research on soil science is discussed as it relates to soil productivity and nutrient levels.

Response of flow and sediment dynamics in mountain streams to biomass removal

John Petrie

The potential biomass removal impacts on flow and sediment dynamics is reviewed, and the methods used to determine these impacts are presented.

Sustainability of biofuel feedstock production: above-ground nutrient pools and removal

Doug Maguire

This presentation explores how much biomass is present on Douglas-fir trees, how much is removed using varied harvesting methods and how much is left after the timber has been harvested. In addition, the amount of nutrients contained in the above-ground biomass is evaluated.

LCA based environmental assessment of NARA bio-jet fuel

Indroneil Ganguly

The framework of the life cycle assessment (LCA) for the wood-to-biojet scenario is presented. In addition, analyses that compare air emissions relating to varied residual hauling and pretreatment methods are given.

Future direction

There are two years remaining for NARA to complete the analyses and tools projected in the original proposal submitted three year ago to the USDA-NIFA. To date, all projects are on track, over 45 peer-reviewed publications have been generated, and efforts to enhance bioenergy literacy among students and educators are beginning to show positive outcomes.

The NARA Advisory Board will submit formal comments and recommendations to the NARA leadership based upon this meeting and from observations made through the year. Board recommendations following last year’s meeting in Corvallis centered on establishing a single pretreatment procedure and strengthening team cohesion.  These requests were accomplished with the down selection to a mild bisulfite pretreatment process and with the implementation of a Phase-Gate decision-making process and increased cross-team collaboration meetings.