Canadian Forest Service Publications
Bioenergy Conversion Potential of Decaying Hardwoods. 2021. Dupuis, É.; Thiffault, E.; Barrette, J.; Adjallé, K.; Martineau, C.; Energies 14: 93.
Issued by: Laurentian Forestry Centre
Catalog ID: 40332
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Unharvested hardwoods are abundant in eastern Canada, due to the low quality of their fiber and the absence of outlets in conventional wood transformation industries. The objective of this study was to assess the biochemical and thermochemical energy conversion potential of decaying hardwoods and compare their relationships with external and internal indicators of tree degradation. We characterized how wood-decay processes altered the physical and chemical properties of these woods and affected their digestibility yield and their performance according to indexes of stability and efficiency of combustion. DNA analysis on wood samples was also performed to determine the relative abundance of white-rot fungi compared to that of other saprotrophs. All properties stayed within the range of variations allowing the wood to remain suitable for conversion into bioenergy, even with increased decay. We found no significant differences in the physical and chemical properties that are crucial for energy production between wood from externally-assessed live and decayed trees. However, the proportion of wood area affected by rot was significantly associated with increased digestibility yield, and with decreased combustion reactivity. We could not detect any specific effect associated with increased relative abundance of white-rot fungi. These results suggest that the utilization of biomass from decayed hardwoods instead of live trees for bioenergy production should not alter the conversion efficiency and even potentially increase the performance of biochemical pathways, and hence, support their use as feedstock for bioenergy production.