The 2nd Northwest Wood-Based Biofuels + Co-Products Conference was held May 4-5, 2016 in Seattle WA. The USDA-NIFA and WSU extension were the conference sponsors. NARA played a lead role in developing this conference, which drew 170 participants.
Representatives from CAAFI, Boeing Commercial Airplanes and Encore Biorenewables provided the opening remarks followed by four parallel tracks relating to 1) feedstock logistics, 2) economic, social and environmental issues, 3) pretreatment and conversion, and 4) bioenergy literacy.
In addition, two panel discussions were offered. The AFRI-CAP panel discussion provided project updates from four Coordinated Agricultural Projects (CAP) supported by the USDA-National Institute of Agriculture plus a presentation from Bill Goldner, Acting Director for the Division of Sustainable Bioenergy of the Institute of Bioenergy, Climate and Environment, in USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).
The second panel hosted representatives from industries that would likely participate in a wood-to-bio-jet fuel supply chain.
View Full Conference Proceedings here.
2016 Conference focused on commercialization
NARA hosted the first Northwest Wood-Based Biofuels + Co-Products Conference in 2014. Within two years after that conference, some significant developments have occurred related to wood-based biojet fuel:
- Alcohol-to-jet technology was included in ASTM standards.
- Alaska Airlines announced demonstration flights using biojet fuel made from forest residuals and from jet fuel produced using Gevo’s technology.
- Southwest Airlines announces purchase agreement with Red Rocks Biofuels.
- NARA and AHB projects reach their final year.
- Boeing, Sea-Tac Airport, and Alaska Airlines explore Sea-Tac’s capacity to supply biofuels.
In light of these developments, one of the major themes for the 2016 conference was commercialization. Forty-six of the conference attendees represented varied business involved in forestry, chemicals, engineering, and aviation. Three messages reinforced by industry presenters and participants were 1) any bio-fuel that makes it to market needs to be cost competitive, 2) relying on subsidies or RINs is not a good long-term strategy and 3) multiple high value co-products need to be part of the product stream.
Education community joins the discussion
The 2016 conference included a bioenergy literacy track that included K-12 and college teachers, administrators, plus non-profit organizations involved with education. Over 30 educators from throughout the U.S. participated. Most of those attending also presented and shared their varied experiences improving the bioenergy literacy among students.
This venue was unique compared to other education conferences. The educators heard from and met with industry, researchers and government officials directly involved with the biofuel industry. In addition, the breath of professional experience among the educators was wide ranging, allowing many points of view during the education track presentations.
This 2016 conference will be the final one hosted by NARA as it is scheduled to finish its work by the end of 2016. It was clearly evident, however, that the momentum to produce bio-jet fuel and other chemical products from renewable sources is on the upswing, and many of the participants at this conference will be working together for some time afterward to deliver sustainable wood-based bio-jet fuels and co-products in the future.