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Covey Consulting Pty. Ltd. Future applications for wood – opportunities and limitations Geoff Covey, Reg Harvey and Dennis Shore Covey Consulting Pty Ltd.

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Presentation on theme: "Covey Consulting Pty. Ltd. Future applications for wood – opportunities and limitations Geoff Covey, Reg Harvey and Dennis Shore Covey Consulting Pty Ltd."— Presentation transcript:

1 Covey Consulting Pty. Ltd. Future applications for wood – opportunities and limitations Geoff Covey, Reg Harvey and Dennis Shore Covey Consulting Pty Ltd 1

2 Covey Consulting Pty. Ltd. Looking to the future Predicting the future is notoriously difficult, and has a history of failure. The further one tries to look ahead the harder it becomes – but the less people around at the end to tell you you were wrong! Compare 1906 with today, then think about the next 100 years.

3 Covey Consulting Pty. Ltd. 1. Forestry. Environmental change. No more oil. 2.Forest products. Solid products. Fibres. Fuels. Silvichemicals.

4 Covey Consulting Pty. Ltd. Forestry Not really our area, but some predictions possible. Clearer distinction between conservation and production forests. Much more active forest management – real tree farms, but on increasingly marginal land. Greater diversity – to suit particular applications – including some totally artificial species.

5 Covey Consulting Pty. Ltd. Changing environment Is the effect real? Is it caused by carbon dioxide? Not today’s topic.

6 Covey Consulting Pty. Ltd. Changing environment Is the effect real? Is it caused by carbon dioxide? Not today’s topic. Even if unreal, precautionary changes will be made.

7 Covey Consulting Pty. Ltd. Changing environment Is the effect real? Is it caused by carbon dioxide? Not today’s topic. Even if unreal, precautionary changes will be made. If real – and due to CO 2 – some forest will be required just to fix carbon – the resulting timber cannot be burned or left to decay.

8 Covey Consulting Pty. Ltd. Changing environment Is the effect real? Is it caused by carbon dioxide? Not today’s topic. Even if unreal, precautionary changes will be made. If real – and due to CO 2 – some forest will be required just to fix carbon – the resulting timber cannot be burned or left to decay. Need to reduce fossil fuel use will encourage use of timber in place of metals (and perhaps polymers)

9 Covey Consulting Pty. Ltd. Changing environment Is the effect real? Is it caused by carbon dioxide? Not today’s topic. Even if unreal, precautionary changes will be made. If real – and due to CO 2 – some forest will be required just to fix carbon – the resulting timber cannot be burned or left to decay. Need to reduce fossil fuel use will encourage use of timber in place of metals (and perhaps polymers) Even if not due to CO 2 – need forests that can resist many decades of erratic weather.

10 Covey Consulting Pty. Ltd. No more oil! Oil reserves are finite – will probably be largely depleted in years. For stationary power – hydro, nuclear, maybe coal are more likely than wood. For transport fuels wood has better prospects. Ultimate choice will depend on whether green house gases are also a problem.

11 Covey Consulting Pty. Ltd. FOREST PRODUCTS Solid products Not our area, but a few safe bets: Sawmilling – less energy and waste Improved sawn timber dimensional stability. Chemical treatment for customised surface properties. Greatly improved reconstituted products – better structural strength. More timber for enclosures and structures.

12 Covey Consulting Pty. Ltd. FIBRES Despite decline in some segments, packaging and hygiene products and increasing prosperity in China and India will ensure overall demand increase for some time yet. Plantations for custom fibres, uniformity and certified sustainable products. Improved use of thinnings (too wet for fuel) – hardwood substitute from young softwood.

13 Covey Consulting Pty. Ltd. But not all from wood Sugar cane for ethanol and fibre co-production. Kenaf for long fibre bast and cellulosic core for fuel. Agricultural residues – to improve utilisation. Shorter lead time to establish non-woods plantations – very attractive in a changing world – but less drought resistant than trees.

14 Covey Consulting Pty. Ltd. FUELS For a variety of reasons, there will be an increasing demand for renewable energy For static power generation For transport

15 Covey Consulting Pty. Ltd. Static power Plenty of alternatives to wood: Hydro, geothermal, wind, solar (some more practical on a large scale than others). Nuclear – not renewable, but low impact.

16 Covey Consulting Pty. Ltd. Static power Plenty of alternatives to wood: Hydro, geothermal, wind, solar (some more practical on a large scale than others). Nuclear – not renewable, but low impact. Wood fired power stations already under consideration. They have advantage of ‘available when required’, but best for base load power.

17 Covey Consulting Pty. Ltd. Wood for static power has its problems Wet, especially if harvested young, and difficult to dry economically on a very large scale. Very large plantation areas and associated logistics for large scale operation.

18 Covey Consulting Pty. Ltd. Transport fuel Ethanol by hydrolysis and fermentation probably most promising at the moment. It has operated on a massive scale in Brazil, and on substantial scale in other countries. Cellulose to ethanol has a stoichiometric yield of 56.8% - perhaps 53% in practice? Large land areas required.

19 Covey Consulting Pty. Ltd. Ethanol for Australia? Annual oil consumption 50 mill t = 2.1x10 9 GJ/a Ethanol required to replace all oil 79 mill t/a.

20 Covey Consulting Pty. Ltd. Ethanol for Australia? Annual oil consumption 50 mill t = 2.1x10 9 GJ/a Ethanol required to replace all oil 79 mill t/a. At 53% yield, cellulose required 150 mill t/a.

21 Covey Consulting Pty. Ltd. Ethanol for Australia? Annual oil consumption 50 mill t = 2.1x10 9 GJ/a Ethanol required to replace all oil 79 mill t/a. At 53% yield, cellulose required 150 mill t/a. For typical cellulose and basic dens 600 mill m 3 /a

22 Covey Consulting Pty. Ltd. Ethanol for Australia? Annual oil consumption 50 mill t = 2.1x10 9 GJ/a Ethanol required to replace all oil 79 mill t/a. At 53% yield, cellulose required 150 mill t/a. For typical cellulose and basic dens 600 mill m 3 /a Assume 20 m 3 /ha – year (marginal land, uncertain rain fall) New forest required for ethanol 33 million ha

23 Covey Consulting Pty. Ltd. Is there room? Total area of Australia is 7,686,850 km 2 Current total forest area 166 million ha Of which plantation is 1.6 million ha

24 Covey Consulting Pty. Ltd. Is there room? Total area of Australia is 7,686,850 km 2 Current total forest area 166 million ha Of which plantation is 1.6 million ha Additional plantations for ethanol 33 million ha = 4.3% of all land

25 Covey Consulting Pty. Ltd. Is there room? Total area of Australia is 7,686,850 km 2 Current total forest area 166 million ha Of which plantation is 1.6 million ha Additional plantations for ethanol 33 million ha = 4.3% of all land Not impossible – but a very substantial change in land use

26 Covey Consulting Pty. Ltd. This is not the whole story On the plus side – growth rates and cellulose yields should improve by 2100

27 Covey Consulting Pty. Ltd. This is not the whole story On the plus side – growth rates and cellulose yields should improve by 2100 BUT significant energy required to run the forests and harvesting, the ethanol production and ‘refining’ and distribution of product.

28 Covey Consulting Pty. Ltd. This is not the whole story On the plus side – growth rates and cellulose yields should improve by 2100 BUT significant energy required to run the forests and harvesting, the ethanol production and ‘refining’ and distribution of product. Ethanol from corn gives only 1.3 times as much energy as it uses.

29 Covey Consulting Pty. Ltd. This is not the whole story On the plus side – growth rates and cellulose yields should improve by 2100 BUT significant energy required to run the forests and harvesting, the ethanol production and ‘refining’ and distribution of product. Ethanol from corn gives only 1.3 times as much energy as it uses. Ethanol from sugar cane – ratio is 8.3

30 Covey Consulting Pty. Ltd. This is not the whole story On the plus side – growth rates and cellulose yields should improve by 2100 BUT significant energy required to run the forests and harvesting, the ethanol production and ‘refining’ and distribution of product. Ethanol from corn gives only 1.3 times as much energy as it uses. Ethanol from sugar cane – ratio is 8.3 For wood ???

31 Covey Consulting Pty. Ltd. The balance Different growth rate figures from previous example

32 Covey Consulting Pty. Ltd. The challenges Less energy intensive wood production (despite higher growth rates). Higher cellulose (and sucrose) content crops. Crops that suit future weather patterns.

33 Covey Consulting Pty. Ltd. SILVICHEMICALS Reducing availability of petroleum. Increasing demand for cellulose for paper and ethanol. Large quantities of by product lignin available as a feed-stock.

34 Covey Consulting Pty. Ltd. YOU CAN MAKE EVERYTHING OUT OF LIGNIN – EXCEPT MONEY

35 Covey Consulting Pty. Ltd. The challenges For scientist – new and better processes For engineers – better efficiency and economics. For business – develop markets and take the plunge.

36 Covey Consulting Pty. Ltd. Perhaps? 1.Don’t treat lignin as a product – think of it a feedstock. Break it down to simple aromatics and alcohols and build chemicals from them.

37 Covey Consulting Pty. Ltd. Perhaps? 1.Don’t treat lignin as a product – think of it a feedstock. Break it down to simple aromatics and alcohols and build chemicals from them. 2.Develop new, high performance polymers from lignin – exploiting its properties instead of fighting them.

38 Covey Consulting Pty. Ltd. Perhaps? 1.Don’t treat lignin as a product – think of it a feedstock. Break it down to simple aromatics and alcohols and build chemicals from them. 2.Develop new, high performance polymers from lignin – exploiting its properties instead of fighting them. 3.Develop new polymers which bond well with cellulose fibres (chemistries are compatible) and make new lignin-cellulose composites.

39 Covey Consulting Pty. Ltd. CONCLUSIONS The next 100 years should see increasing demand for wood – both for some of the old purposes, and for some new ones.

40 Covey Consulting Pty. Ltd. CONCLUSIONS The next 100 years should see increasing demand for wood – both for some of the old purposes, and for some new ones. Enhanced performance will be demanded.

41 Covey Consulting Pty. Ltd. CONCLUSIONS The next 100 years should see increasing demand for wood – both for some of the old purposes, and for some new ones. Enhanced performance will be demanded. There will be plenty of work for wood scientists!

42 Covey Consulting Pty. Ltd.


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