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.”