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Biomass

Winter 2016

Wood Takes Wing

The most complex chemistry lab on the planet is growing in your neighborhood. There might be a tree in your own backyard, cranking out chemicals as it converts sunlight to food, wards off pests, and circulates water and nutrients through it roots, branches, and leaves.

So diverse is the chemical compendium produced by trees that we get aspirin (willow bark is a natural source of salicylic acid and has been used to treat pain since ancient times), the ink Leonardo used in his notebooks (from leaf galls produced by wasp larvae), and natural antibacterials (the fiber in cedar chips is used to make hospital gowns).

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More energy
Winter 2012

More energy (and other stuff) from wood

Few materials have been as kind to civilization as wood.

It made possible some of our most revolutionary technologies: the spear, fire, the wheel, the house, the ship. Hunting, cooking, shelter, transportation, all got big assists because wood was abundant, changeable, sturdy, and packed with energy.

WSU researchers are now trying to wring a whole new suite of uses from wood, including jet fuel and alternatives to other petroleum-based products. They have millions of tons of raw material at their disposal in logging residues across the Northwest. Leading the Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance, a consortium of universities, government labs, and industry, they have $40 … » More …