Biofuel from pine bark beetle trees

Pine bark beetle devastation (fs.usda)

The pine bark beetle has devastated areas in the Pacific Northwest and Intermountain West, killing Lodgepole and Ponderosa pines over millions of acres. The dead trees are a serious fire hazard. Researchers may have at least a partial solution – mobile pyrolosis units that convert the dead trees into bio-oil, which is far easier and more cost effective to transport than dead trees.

Mark Coleman, a forest biologist at the University of Idaho, says that he is confident that when the technology is fully developed, it would at least be competitive with ethanol.

“[In South Dakota], we’re paying $18 a tree to have infested trees cut,” said Ball. “So even if this fast pyrolysis method cost $3 a tree, we still save fifteen bucks a tree.”


  1. We *pay* $5 a cord to cut these trees on federal lands. It’s cost-effective heating for our home, sustainable because clearing the deadwood makes room for new trees to grow, and environmentally feasible in small communities where the particulates don’t build up in the atmosphere. We go through four cords a year.

    • That’s a great idea. Clean up the dead wood and people get to heat their homes. A big problem with pine bark beetle trees is they can be in truly inaccessible areas. And still a huge fire hazard.

      • A big problem with the pine bark beetles is… the winters are now too warm to kill them. But there’s no climate change. Drill, baby drill.

        Yes, some areas are inaccessible. All are a fire hazard. I thank God for my fearless friends who work the federal fire crews – they do an awesome job. One of the things they do (so far, unless the hard environmental left stops them, which they are trying to do in Utah) is to build fire roads so the inaccessible areas become accessible.

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