Building our future … with wood

Bioproducts could eventually be used not just for energy, but to build homes, planes and more

 Wood and its possibilities are endless! We’d like to share this article from the Vancouver Sun about wood and what role it plays in our future.

Conveyors separate wood chip types at Nanaimo’s Harmac pulp mill.

By Gordon Hamilton, Vancouver Sun   July 14, 2012(Photograph by: Glenn Olsen, Vancouver Sun)

In resource towns like Castlegar in the West Kootenay, the future of B.C.’s forest industry is already starting to unfold.

It’s all about sustainability and it’s on display in the lower emissions, shrinking environmental footprint and diversified revenue stream at Mercer International’s Celgar pulp mill, one of a number of B.C. mills that is beginning to tap the province’s forests for new bio-products — from energy to bio-chemicals.

The drive for a sustainable future, particularly among the developing nations, is expected to lead to more reliance on biofuels derived from what used to be termed wood waste; lighter vehicles and aircraft made from cellulose composites; and new demand for wood, rather than concrete or steel, as the building product of choice.

What’s unfolding at Celgar is just the beginning, said David Gandossi, Mercer senior vice-president. What began as a symbiotic relationship between the sawmilling sector and the pulp sector half a century ago is evolving into a new bio-economy.

“Round logs and square lumber mean there are residual chips left over,” he said.

The chips went to pulp mills, which converted them to northern bleached softwood kraft, the best pulp in the world. With emerging economies using more tissues, high-grade papers and similar products, demand for NBSK is increasing.

B.C.’s pulp mills, once considered dinosaurs that would be pushed to extinction by modern southern hemisphere mills producing pulp from eucalyptus, are in the enviable position now of producing a limited-supply product into a market that is expected to grow far into the future.

And then there is the bio-economy. [Learn more]