The Advanced Hardwood Biofuels Northwest (AHB) consortium included partner institutions from private industry and major research universities, as well as over 100 researchers, post docs, graduate students and staff. Rick Gustafson, Denman Professor of Bioresource Science and Engineering in the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences at the University of Washington, led the AHB project. Our partner institutions are listed below.
The University of Washington (UW) is a global leader in environmental science research and education, recognized internationally for knowledge and leadership in environmental and natural resource issues. UW was the lead institution for the AHB project, whose mission was to develop the foundation for a hardwood biofuels industry in the Northwest. In addition, UW co-leds the project’s Sustainability Team through the University’s School of Environmental and Forest Science. UW’s research efforts contributed to the project’s feedstock, conversion, and sustainability investigations.
The Agriculture Center of Excellence
The Agriculture Center of Excellence (ACE), located at Walla Walla Community College, works to enhance the agriculture industry by supporting agriculture and natural resource programs offered at community and technical colleges throughout Washington. ACE co-led AHB’s Education Team and developed curriculum for associate and certificate programs that support the Northwest’s renewable energy workforce.
The Biofuels and Bioproducts Laboratory
The Biofuels and Bioproducts Laboratory at the University of Washington strives to gain a better understanding of not only the unit processes of bioconversion of lignocellulosics, but also the bigger picture. Techno-economic analysis of single or multiple processes were used to determine economic feasibility. Life cycle analysis of the entire set of processes were used to ensure that sustainability, as well as profit, is maintained.
GreenWood Resources, Inc. (GWR) manages and develops tree farms for timber and renewable energy. GWR led the development of hardwood feedstocks for the biofuel supply chain. They established four bioenergy farms to scientifically investigate all aspects of sustainable poplar production as well as the potential for hybrid alder to be used as an alternative feedstock. GWR also took the lead in understanding how management practices used when growing biomass impact soil, water, air quality, and wildlife habitat. In the future, GWR can provide technical assistance, nursery services, and harvesting logistics to support hardwood biofuels feedstocks.
Oregon State University (OSU) is a leading research university making a positive difference in quality of life, natural resources, and economic prosperity. OSU co-led the Education Team. They developed K-12, four-year college, and master’s level curricula and programs to ensure that a skilled bioenergy workforce is available well into the future. Researchers at OSU also conducted research on hybrid poplar genetics for biofuel feedstock development.
The Rocky Mountain Wildlife Institute (RMWI) worked on the environmental component of the Sustainability Team by conducting wildlife and biodiversity studies at the four demonstration sites. The Institute has broad experience in the field of wildlife biology and management, including wildlife surveys and monitoring, habitat assessments, biodiversity planning, wildlife damage management, forest certification, and environmental research. (The Rocky Mountain Wildlife Institute has now become part of Western EcoSystems Technology, Inc.)
Portland State University studied the air quality effects of poplar plantations for the Sustainability Team. Researchers developed an air quality monitoring device.
University of California, Davis
The largest University of California campus, UC Davis is well-known for their commitment to sustainability. As a co-lead of AHB sustainability team, UC Davis conducted comprehensive economic analysis of the entire process of growing, harvesting, conversion, and distribution. This effort included extensive modeling and system optimization, which evaluate economic viability for landowners and determine other economic impacts of a biofuel industry in the Northwest. Researchers at UC Davis also worked on developing hybrid poplars for biofuel feedstocks.
University of Idaho (UI) is one of the institutions that worked closely with GWR, UW, and UC Davis on feedstock development and sustainability. UI is committed to creating sustainability by addressing the nation’s most challenging issues through engaged learning and interdisciplinary research. At the AHB demonstration sites, UI researchers investigated the soil and water quality impacts of poplar bioenergy farms. Researchers also studied plant-fungal interactions to test how endophytes influence disease severity.
Washington State University (WSU) led the Extension and outreach portions of the project by ensuring that future poplar growers and local Extension professionals would be able to make informed decisions. The outreach efforts focused on biofuel feedstock production and fostering bioenergy education by engaging people, organizations, and communities to advance knowledge, economic well-being, and quality of life. Researchers at WSU also worked on developing improved hybrid poplar feedstocks.
ZeaChem led the Conversion Team in studying the production of drop-in fuels from sustainably-grown hardwoods. ZeaChem runs a 250,000 gallons per year demonstration-scale biorefinery in Boardman, OR that started operations in 2012 for the production of biofuels and bio-based chemicals. Their highly efficient biorefining method can convert any non-food biomass into a range of sustainable fuel and chemical products that are cost-competitive with those produced by traditional petroleum refineries.