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Converting Hardwoods to Drop-in Transportation Fuels

This video focuses on the conversion team’s goals, activities, and accomplishments in moving towards developing sustainable biofuel industries in the Pacific Northwest.

Watch the video Renewable Biofuels and Biochemicals: Acetic Acid

Bridge to Biofuels Part 1: Acetic Acid

In the Pacific Northwest, AHB is finding innovative ways to produce bio-based, high value chemicals using sustainably grown poplar trees. Acetic acid is a financially promising chemical that is used in the manufacture of several products, including paints, plastics, textiles and potassium acetate, the primary de-icing compound used on airport runways.

Watch the video Renewable Biofuels and biochemicals: Cellulosic Ethanol

Bridge to Biofuels Part 2: Cellulosic Ethanol

Cellulosic ethanol is one of the simplest and least expensive biofuels to make from cellulosic biomass. Most ethanol sold in the Pacific Northwest is made from corn grown in the Midwest. AHB is working to make ethanol more sustainable in the PNW by producing cellulosic ethanol from locally grown poplar trees.

An airplane taking off

Bridge to Biofuels Part 3: Biojet Fuel

Currently, biojet fuel is the most promising renewable energy option for air transportation. The federal government and aviation industry are interested in biojet fuel because it offers opportunities for future growth while also increasing sustainability. In the Pacific Northwest, AHB is investigating the potential for biojet fuel made from locally-grown poplar trees.

Everyday Products from Renewable Poplar Trees

Along the conversion pathway from hybrid poplar wood chips to renewable transportation fuels, intermediate chemicals are produced, including acetic acid, ethyl acetate, and ethylene which can be used to make a variety of bioproducts that we use in our everyday lives.

Making Biofuels and Biochemicals from Poplar Trees

Nature took millions of years to convert plant materials into fossil fuels through various natural processes. We now have the technologies in place to produce equivalent liquid biofuels in industrial settings within a few days!


ZeaChem Biorefinery

Converting hybrid poplar to biofuels and biochemicals: feedstock properties and conversion techniques

Presented by Renata Bura and Fernando Resende from the University of Washington
Researchers at the University of Washington are fine-tuning the process to convert hybrid poplars into acetic acid, ethanol, jet fuel, and other products. This webinar takes a step-by-step look at how woody biomass is converted to chemicals then biofuels.

Biochemicals: The First Steps Toward Commercialization

Presenters: Dr. Rick Gustafson, Erik Budsberg, and Jordan Crawford
Biochemicals, produced during the conversion pathway to biofuels, offer more immediate market opportunities for emerging biofuel industries in the Pacific Northwest.


Converting Wood to Biofuels

Converting Wood to Biofuels

There are a variety of ways that cellulosic biomass can be converted into biofuels. AHB’s research focuses on a
conversion process that uses heat, bacteria, and chemical reactions to convert the wood from poplar trees into
biofuels and bio-based chemicals.

Drop-In biofuels

Drop-In Biofuels

Drop-In biofuels are liquid transportation fuels made from plant material. These fuels are chemically identical to petroleum-derived gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel. Drop-in biofuels could be used in the same engines and be stored in the same fuel supply infrastructure as fossil fuels.

Poplar-Based Ethanol

Poplar-Based Ethanol

In the PNW, poplar trees are a promising feedstock for cellulosic ethanol. Developing a cellulosic ethanol industry in the PNW can increase energy security, build local economies, and reduce net greenhouse gas emissions and global warming potential.

Acetic Acid From Poplar

Acetic Acid From Poplar

One of the most financially promising bio-based chemicals that could be produced in the AHB process is acetic acid. It is the building block for making ethanol, ethylene, and jet fuel. Not only is it produced with the highest yields out of all the potential biochemicals, but it also has one of the highest selling prices.

Policy Briefs

Where Did the Poplar Biomass Go?

Where Did the Biomass Go?

March 2018
Developing test batches of ethanol and jet fuel, improving the conversion processes, and figuring out what to do with every part of the poplar tree makes for a better, more efficient system. So far, the results of the poplar studies are very encouraging!

Building the Bridge to Biofuels

Building the Bridge to Biofuels

April 2015
On the conversion pathway to renewable drop-in transportation fuels, intermediate bio-chemicals are produced with high economic value, which can reduce risk for new biorefineries. The “bridge to biofuels” shows the building blocks of drop-in biofuels and discusses the uses and opportunities of intermediate bio-chemicals.

The New Bioeconomy of the Pacific Northwest

The New Bioeconomy of the Pacific Northwest

December 2014
AHB is building a Bioeconomy in the Pacific Northwest.

Newsletter Articles

Student giving a tour of the UW conversion lab

Breakthrough on Catalysts for Poplar-based Jet Fuel

New research is identifying catalysts to produce bio-jet fuel from simple organic molecules such as ethanol. The research is being conducted by the AHB conversion team working in the University of Washington (UW) Biofuels and Bioproducts Laboratory in collaboration with ZeaChem.

Shannon Ewanick standing next to the steam pre-treatment reactor

Conversion Team It’s all about the sugars

Ewanick and the UW conversion team led tours through their labs as part of the AHB annual meeting in Seattle. For the Advanced Hardwood Biofuels Northwest (AHB) conversion team, sugars and how they are treated are pivotal to producing several vital products from poplars.

Wood chips

The Devil is in the Details: Understanding Poplar’s True Potential as an Energy Feedstock through Biomass Studies

Although sunny field tours through towering, leafy poplars are lovely, it’s really after the harvest that AHB poplars earn their keep. Following the harvest of the hybrid poplar demonstration farms at Jefferson, OR and Hayden, ID, GreenWood Resources sent sizable biomass samples to several laboratories for analysis and chemical characterization.