Way to remove fuel from wildfires to be demonstrated

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HEPPNER — A potential new way to rid forests of fuels that feed wildfires will be demonstrated near here Monday.

The demonstration of fast pyrolysis equipment will be at 1 p.m. at the Kinzua Mill Site, two miles north of Heppner on State Route 207, said Joni Bosworth, Umatilla National Forest public affairs officer.

"Fast pyrolysis is a thermal process that rapidly heats woody biomass to high temperatures and then quickly cools it to yield bio-oil, bio-char, and (synthetic gas)," said David Powell, forest silviculturist. The synthetic gas can be collected or recycled into the combustion chamber to run the fast pyrolysis operation.

The bio-oil and bio-char are collected and trucked off-site for later use, Powell said in a release. Bio-oil can be refined into No. 2 diesel fuel or used for industrial heating while the bio-char can be used as a soil amendment.

The fast pyrolysis equipment can be moved from treatment site to treatment site or set up at a convenient central location, Powell said. This promises to solve the problem of transporting material from the forest floor to a mill site, a process that can cost more than the byproducts are worth.

Along with the Forest Service, Monday’s demonstration will involve personnel with Morrow County, Rocky Mountain Research Station, the University of Idaho and the University of Montana. The presentations will be done by Renewable Oil International.

Information about the demonstration is available from Powell at (541) 278-3852 or Carrie Spradlin at (541) 676-9187.

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