Pine chemicals group looks at biomass industry's impact on products

20 September 2013 20:01  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--The international conference of the Pine Chemicals Association wrapped up on Wednesday in Barcelona, Spain, with a forward thrust aimed at heightening attention to the impact of the growing biomass industry on its products. 

Pine Chemicals Association CEO Charles Morris said on Friday that the biomass industry is working to identify carbon dioxide (CO2) emission impacts from both traditional uses for woody mass and those from the increasing uses of the feedstock in biofuels.

Key conference speaker Michael Carus, managing director for Nova-Institut, located near Cologne in Germany, pointed to the need for the growing bio-based economy to consider the most efficient uses for biomass.

Biomass can include sugars, starches, plant oil and fibres such as woody biomass.

The biomass of primary importance to the Pine Chemicals Association is woody biomass from pine trees.

The sticking point underlined by Carus’ presentation is that biomass is actually a limited resource, and one that requires more attention to ensure that it is utilised effectively.

According to the conference speakers, the usage growth in Germany of biomass for industrial products has stagnated while the use of biomass for energy has grown over 200% since 2002 – or about 10 times the amount used for industrial products.

Industrial products from biomass outputs such as crude tall oil (CTO) can include a variety of items, ranging from tall oil fatty acids (TOFAs) to the terpenes that find way into fragrances and cleansers used in everyday household chores. 

Carus said that the huge growth of biomass use for energy is fuelled by rampant government incentives provided for the burning of woody biomass, running up the prices for woody biomass and eliminating innovation to use these materials in other value-added manufacturing.

Carus argued that incentives and mandates are counterproductive and should be removed in order to determine what forms of biomass can be best utilised as fuels.

Carus said that studies show that the use of biomass in place of fossil fuels does not seriously reduce CO2 emissions.

Additionally, he said that recipients of incentives are now requesting higher incentives in order to remain competitive.

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By: Judith Taylor
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