Forests touted as alternative source of fuel

It’s been some time since I watched Tim Russert on “Meet The Press” on NBC on a Sunday morning. He had three presidents on the panel who were discussing oil company profits and the price of fuel on the road.
Chevron president John Gass talked about the research and development his company was doing. This year, Chevron has entered into a $12-million research project with Georgia Tech to be spread over five years to develop
cellulosic biofuel.
Chevron actually is committed to spend $400 million total in those five years to develop alternative fuel systems.
Chevron is looking to commercialize biofuel crops. We all have heard of E85 fuel in the states and bio diesel. Mohawk in Canada has been selling blended bio-ethanol fuel here in Fort Frances.
Those process only the grains of the plant. Research is beginning to look at other parts of the plant. Research is looking at palletizing grass, straw for use in pellet stoves.
Pellets and their use as heating fuels already is accepted as an alternative to oil fuels.
I had never heard of cellulosic biofuel before, but when he talked about converting wood fibre, grass, straw, and hemp into a liquid fuel to power cars and trucks on the road, it caught my attention.
So think about filling your tank with fuel from Canada’s forests. Just think that every tree is another tank of gasoline.
With our wealth of oil from the tar sands, cellulosic biofuel is not on the horizon here yet. Yet in the United States, the giant oil companies—Chevron, Shell, and Exxon—are looking to the year 2015 to have those alternative fuels at the pumps.
It is part of their plans to reduce their dependence on offshore oil. They see the opportunity to develop new fuel sources on U.S. soil.
By 2050 (that is long-term planning), U.S. oil companies are predicting that they no longer will be using conventional gasoline to power the automobile industry.
They also see that they will be producing three times the volume of biofuels that they currently import from the Persian Gulf.
Atikokan is developing a research centre to look at the use of peat as an alternative source to coal for the generating station. Would it also be wise to look at the opportunity to develop a research centre in Northwestern Ontario to develop technology for cellulosic biofuels?
With the loss of the paper mills, alternative uses of the forests must be developed. Might this technology be a savior of small towns across the north?

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