Canadian Forest Service Publications
Bioconversion of beetle killed lodgepole pine to bioethanol. 2009. Saddler, J. Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service, Pacific Forestry Centre, Victoria, BC. Mountain Pine Beetle Working Paper 2009-24. 33 p.
Available from: Pacific Forestry Centre
Catalog ID: 31193
Use of ethanol produced from biomass has the potential to offset use of fossil-derived fuels, reduce CO2 emissions, and help reduce many effects of global warming, such as the current outbreak of the mountain pine beetle in British Columbia, Canada. This outbreak is increasing volumes of dead and dying lodgepole pine with time-limited commercial value. In this study, we focused on assessing the technical feasibility of producing ethanol from beetle-killed pine softwood. We pre-treated softwood with SO2-catalysed steam or ethanol with subsequent enzymatic hydrolysis, and fermented the resulting sugars to ethanol. Both pre-treatments produced substrates from both beetle-killed and healthy lodgepole pine that could be hydrolyzed by cellulase enzymes more easily than could substrates produced previously from Douglas-fir wood. The receptivities of these substrates to subsequent enzymatic hydrolysis varied depending on the pre-treatment and conditions. Subsequently, methods were explored to characterize the substrates prior to hydrolysis, with the goal of gaining insight into the process parameters which may increase hydrolysis yields. Expertise and equipment at the University of British Columbia, such as the process development unit, were used to test the suitability of beetle-killed pine as a bioconversion feedstock. Although further research is necessary to overcome various process bottlenecks in the overall bioconversion of beetle-killed pine, this study indicates that this resource could provide a significant source of biomass for bioconversion to ethanol.