Researchers working to turn forestry slash into green energy

Fri, Mar 17

A team of researchers at the University of Canterbury are working on a method to turn forestry slash into green energy.

It comes after Cyclone Gabrielle caused large volumes of logs and debris to choke up rivers, which burst their banks and flooded farmland with wood.

An exclusive 1News Kantar Public Poll shows New Zealanders overwhelmingly think forestry companies should pay for at least some of the damage caused by slash.

"My research is to convert woody biomass including low-grade logs... as well as slash into green hydrogen and CO2," University of Canterbury professor Shusheng Pang told Breakfast this morning.

READ MORE: Why it floods wood on the East Coast

"The target is trying to increase the yield and reduce the cost and achieve better environmental sustainability."

He said the first part of the process is turning the slash and waste wood into chips.

"We dry the chips, and then we convert the chips into a mixture of gases," he said.

"Now we are working on converting the gas into pure hydrogen and pure CO2."

Pang said that, by injecting steam into the process, they could double the wood's hydrogen yield.

He hopes the technology can help combat our use of fossil fuels in the future.

"The biomass is renewable and also the waste wood, we solve some environmental issues, so we can achieve securing the future energy and at the same time, we can achieve zero emissions target by 2050."

Asked if the team have been using slash from Cyclone Gabrielle, Pang said: "Not yet.

"We have been testing sawdust-made pellets... but we have been working with Gisborne city council to look at the options to use the slash wood in the future for hydrogen production and CO2 capture and reuse."