International interns chip in for bioenergy research

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International interns chip in for bioenergy research

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Camille Barrier of Université Grenoble Alpes in France.

6 March 2017

Research students from Canada and France have arrived at USC to assist forestry researchers turn logging by-products into renewable energy.

Camille Barrier of Université Grenoble Alpes in France and Claude Durocher from Canada’s Laval University will spend five months at USC’s Forest Industries Research Centre, working on projects to develop better techniques in bioenergy production.

Bioenergy is a renewable source of power developed from organic materials such as scrap lumber. It currently makes up just seven percent of Australia’s renewable electricity production.

Camille said her project, supervised by USC Research Fellow Mohammad Reza Ghaffariyan, aimed to boost bioenergy production by developing new drying technology for the parts of trees that go to waste in timber production.

“When you burn woodchips in a bioenergy power plant, the moisture content must be very low – near 20 percent,” she said. “I’ll be helping to develop a more efficient method to dry out the biomass, whether that’s using artificial or natural processes.

“In Australia, there’s a large amount of biomass being produced through forestry, but it’s not a major part of the renewable energy mix. It would be great to develop that potential.”

Quebec City resident Claude, who is visiting USC under a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarship, is conducting fieldwork in forestry plantations near Gympie to assess the economics of biomass harvesting in the region.

“I’m very excited to be working with the USC team on this project and to explore the environment of the Sunshine Coast,” Claude said. “It’s a completely different industry here.”

Director of the Forest Industries Research Centre and Professor of Forestry Operations Mark Brown said Camille and Claude were among eight international students hosted by the centre in the past 18 months.

“We’ve given them projects that they can sink their teeth into,” he said. “The long-term goals for us are to build knowledge about forestry internationally and develop more future researchers in this field.

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