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Sustainable Biojet

Biojet fuel made from forest slash is now a reality.

Almost half of the Pacific Northwest is covered by forests, which are currently used for many uses. After timber harvest, the forest harvest residues often end up in slash piles and are burned. These residues could be a potential feedstock for biofuels and co-products. NARA has provided a roadmap to make this happen.

Feedstock logistics

“We’re very confident we can grow a lot of biomass,” says Greg Johnson, director of forest research at Weyerhaeuser Company, which is coordinating sustainable production efforts. “The big challenge is finding ways to deliver biomass at competitive costs — it has to pay its way out of the woods.”

To reduce costs and supply a suitable feedstock for conversion, NARA work has resulted in:

  • feedstock (forest harvest residuals) specifications for optimum conversion to biojet fuel.
  • an improved model and equations to better predict future forest residual supplies.
  • forest slash chemical compositions from diverse landscapes in the Pacific Northwest.
  • distribution, availability, and chemical characterization of wood-based material from recycling facilities in ID, OR, MT, and WA.
  • a GeneChip used by tree breeders to introduce softwoods with improved traits for biofuel processing.
  • computer models to help forest landowners efficiently process and transport forest residuals.
  • logging utilization, harvest trends, and timber product output data for ID, OR, MT, and WA.

Forest residuals:
availability and collection

This video defines forest residuals,how sustainability is measured, and feedstock characteristics that are important for the production of biofuels and co-products.


Key publications

Predicting Logging Residue Volumes in the Pacific Northwest

Berg, E., Morgan, T., Simmons, E., Zarnoch, S. & Scudder M. (2016). Predicting logging residue volumes in the Pacific Northwest. For. Sci., 62(5), 564-573. doi:

Forest Biomass Feedstock Cost Sensitivity to Grinding Parameters for Bio-jet Production

Marrs, G., Zamora-Cristales, R. & Sessions, J. (2016). Forest biomass feedstock cost sensitivity to grinding parameters for bio-jet production. Renewable Energy, 99, 1082-1091.

Economic Impact of Truck–Machine Interference in Forest Biomass Recovery Operations on Steep Terrain

Zamora, C.R., Sessions, J., Murphy, G., & Boston, K. (2013). Economic impact of truck–machine interference in forest biomass recovery operations on steep terrain. Forest Products Journal, 63(5/6), 162-173. doi: 10.13073/FPJ-D-13-00031


Conversion into biojet fuel

There are a number of ways to convert forest slash into biojet fuel; however, integrating the multiple technologies into a production system is a technical challenge.

NARA has demonstrated a conversion pathway that is effective, economical, of scale, and adaptable to existing facilities in the Pacific Northwest. NARA work has resulted in:

  • an adaptable and scalable sulfite-based pretreatment and fermentation system that converts forest residuals into isobutanol.
  • an economic blueprint to project the costs and potential revenues associated with a biorefinery that converts forest residuals into biojet fuel and co-products.
  • alternative pretreatment technologies such as wet oxidation and wood milling.

How to turn wood into biojet fuel

This video describes how forest residuals are converted into biojet fuel using the process developed by NARA members.


Key publications

Dilute Acid Pretreatment of Douglas Fir Forest Residues: Pretreatment Yield, Hemicellulose Degradation, and Enzymatic Hydrolysability

Alvarez-Vasco, C., Guo, M. & Zhang, X. (2015). Dilute acid pretreatment of Douglas fir forest residues: pretreatment yield, hemicellulose degradation, and enzymatic hydrolysability. BioEnergy Research, 8(1), 42-52. doi:10.1007/s12155-014-9496-7.

Fermentative High Titer Ethanol Production from a Douglas-fir Forest Residue without Detoxification Using SPORL: High SO2 Loading at a Low Temperature

Gu, F., Gilles, W., Gleisner, R. & Zhu, J.Y. (2016). Fermentative high titer ethanol production from a Douglas-fir forest residue without detoxification using SPORL: high SO2 loading at a low temperature.Ind. Biotechnol., 12(3),168-175. doi: 10.1089/ind.2015.0028

Design and Optimization of a Semi-Continuous High Pressure Carbon Dioxide Extraction System for Acetic Acid

Garrett, B.G., Srinivas, K., & Ahring, B.K. (2014). Design and optimization of a semi-continuous high pressure carbon dioxide extraction system for acetic acid. J.of Supercritical Fluids, 95, 243-251. doi:10.1016/j.supflu.2014.08.029


Making it happen

NARA and select partners employed the feedstock specifications and conversion technologies developed by NARA to produce 1000 gallons of biojet fuel made from Pacific Northwest forest slash.

In Fall, 2016, Alaska Airlines flew from Seattle to Washington DC using a fuel blend containing NARA’s biojet fuel. This historic flight was the first to use biojet fuel made from cellulosic sources, and showed the world a way to reduce greenhouse gas while maintaining a sustainable energy source.

read how we make it happen