Chile will test the viability of producing next-generation biofuels using biomass waste from its wood industries with a $1 million technical cooperation grant approved by the Inter-American Development Bank.
The project will be carried out by ForEnergy S.A., a public-private venture formed by ENAP Refinerías S.A. and Consorcio Maderero S.A. with the goal of developing second-generation biofuels using domestic materials that do not compete with food production. ForEnergy will contribute $250,000 in counterpart funds to the project.
The grant will help ForEnergy to initially build a facility for producing hydrogen and steam from woodchips or other woody biomass through a gasification process. In a second phase these gases will be converted into a type of biodiesel using Fischer-Tropsch process. ForEnergy will analyze the investment and operation costs associated with these processes to determine their viability on a commercial scale.
Woodchips and waste timber are available in large quantities as a byproduct of Chile’s mature wood products industry. Other types of surplus biomass, such as agriculture wastes, may also be tested by ForEnergy.
“This is a pioneering project in Latin America,” said Arnaldo Vieira de Carvalho, the IDB project team leader. “It could lead to the emergence of an important new source of climate-neutral energy using sustainable materials, and help Latin America to advance its global leadership in the biofuels industry.”
The Chilean government is promoting the development of alternative sources of energy as part of a long-term strategy to increase energy security and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Last year the government awarded competitive grants to two public-private consortiums to develop second-generation biofuels during the next five years. ENAP Refinerías S.A. and Consorcio Maderero S.A., along with a research center, formed one of the winning consortia, known as Biocomsa.
The IDB grant was financed through the Bank’s Sustainable Energy and Climate Change Initiative (SECCI).