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Collaborations and Partnerships

For decades, we’ve used carbon-neutral biomass to provide a portion of the energy to run our manufacturing operations. Additionally, all of our wood products and cellulose fibers products are inherently renewable, since they are derived from forests that are renewed and replanted. We believe forests and related biomass can be a prime source of raw material for a variety of products. Today, we continue our strong tradition of ingenuity, research and sustainability by exploring new ways our assets can be used to generate renewable energy and fibers. Below are a few examples of our recent collaborations and partnerships aimed at producing advanced, renewable and sustainable products.

THRIVE™ Composites: Cellulose Fiber Reinforced Thermoplastics

In 2012, in partnership with Ford, we launched a proprietary, patent-pending form of thermoplastic composite that uses sustainably sourced cellulose fiber as a reinforcement additive. Called THRIVE™ composites, the product will initially be used in household goods and automotive parts. In addition, THRIVE can be used in a variety of composite plastic applications, including office furniture, kitchenware, small and large consumer appliances and other industrial goods. THRIVE composites offer several advantages over materials reinforced with short glass fibers or natural fibers such as sisal, hemp and kenaf. The product is available in masterbatch form for custom compounders and ready-to-mold thermoplastic pellets for molders. Products made with THRIVE require less energy to produce and can reduce wear and tear on processing equipment when compared with those containing abrasive short glass fibers. These substantial benefits create significant advantages for companies looking to reduce their carbon footprints while enhancing performance and productivity. Visit our THRIVE website for more information.

Biofuels Joint Venture: Catchlight Energy

Catchlight Energy, a 50-50 joint venture between Chevron and Weyerhaeuser, is dedicated to accelerating the commercialization of cellulosic biofuels through the provision of feedstock and offtake services, licensing of conversion technology and supporting independent third-party research focused on understanding the environmental sustainability of the biofuel industry.

Catchlight Energy unites our expertise in innovative land stewardship, resource management and capacity to deliver sustainable cellulose-based feedstocks at scale with Chevron's technology capabilities in molecular conversion, product engineering, advanced fuel manufacturing and fuels distribution.

The partnership reflects the view that cellulosic biofuels will fill an important role in diversifying energy sources and addressing global climate change by providing a source of low-carbon transportation fuel.

Independent experts are being engaged to verify that Catchlight Energy's forest-to-fuel business model is environmentally sustainable. Many factors are being taken into consideration, including life cycle analysis, greenhouse gas emissions, water, wildlife and soil erosion.

Catchlight Energy is actively engaged with multiple firms that are seeking to commercialize technology to produce biofuels. As an example, Catchlight has an agreement to supply forest-based biomass and purchase a portion of the renewable hydrocarbon fuels produced at KiOR's first commercial unit in Columbus, Mississippi, which is scheduled to start up in 2013.

Feasibility of Producing Jet Biofuel from Woody Feedstocks

We are a participant in a portion of the Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance consortium, led by Washington State University, to study the feasibility of producing jet biofuel from woody feedstocks in the Pacific Northwest. The WSU-led project is one of two five-year, $40 million grants awarded by the USDA.

The WSU-led grant aims to address the urgent national need for a domestic biofuel alternative for U.S. commercial and military air fleets. Researchers at the Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance envision developing a new, viable, aviation fuel industry using wood and wood waste in the Pacific Northwest, where forests cover almost half of the region. The project is focusing on increasing the profitability of wood-based fuels through development of high value, bio-based co-products to replace petrochemicals used in products such as plastics.

As a subcontractor to the WSU-led grant, we are:

  • Determining the feasibility of sustainable production of woody feedstocks for use in biofuel and value-added products;
  • Understanding how to more cost effectively collect currently under utilized harvest material; and
  • Exploring ways to convert woody biomass lignin components into value added bio products.

As part of our involvement, we established a new research site near Springfield, Oregon, to better understand the effect of forest management practices on soil, water and wildlife. The site is intended to provide information on the effect of biomass removal, compaction and fertilization on soil, water and wildlife. We are working with collaborators to understand how to develop more cost-effective ways to collect currently under-utilized harvest residuals for emerging biofuel and bio-product applications. We are studying ways to create high-value bioproducts from residual lignin, the second most abundant polymer in nature.

Harnessing Wind Power on our Land

In early 2013, we entered into fourteen wind power agreements with eleven individual wind power developers. The agreements are on separate properties in Washington, Oregon, Oklahoma and North Carolina. Two of the properties are fully permitted and the others are in various stages of wind resource study and permitting.

Since 2008, we have been actively evaluating our wind energy opportunities. Through lease/option agreements with multiple wind power developers, our wind resources are continue to be evaluated for:

  • Viability
  • Fit with transmission availability
  • Market opportunities; and
  • State renewable energy portfolios.

Potential estimated renewable energy power output from these projects is approximately 880 megawatts. We are currently negotiating agreements on additional properties in Washington and North Carolina with the potential for additional wind power electrical generation. We expect these projects to eventually provide an additional stream of long-term revenue with minimal impact on core, timber business activities.

Geothermal Exploration

Under an agreement with us, Alta Rock Energy selected approximately 47,000 acres of originally optioned land in Washington and Oregon to convert to lease status. Alta Rock selected the lease acreage based on regional exploration results indicating "at depth" heat resources in the Mt. Saint Helens area in Washington and adjacent to Summer Lake in south-central Oregon. Alta Rock continues to explore the potential for developing Engineered Geothermal System projects and will be conducting additional testing including the drilling of heat gradient holes on the selected lease lands.

Many areas of the Western U.S. have high heat flow measurements that lie close enough to the earth's surface to tap with conventional drilling techniques. Once a promising area is found and drilled, AltaRock plans to cycle water through a closed loop system to create steam that's used to generate electricity. The water is recycled to continually capture more heat and produce more electricity. Once developed, such systems can produce electricity for decades and provide power on a twenty-four hour basis.

We also have an exploration agreement with Ormat Technologies to explore the geothermal potential of other selected sites in Washington and Oregon. Ormat is one of the premier geothermal power plant developers and has facilities worldwide.

Creating Carbon Fiber from Lignin

We are currently partnering with Zoltek Companies, Inc., under a U.S. Department of Energy grant to produce a low-cost carbon fiber incorporating the natural polymer lignin, which could potentially enhance the energy efficiency of carbon fiber manufacture and be used in advanced (more fuel efficient) vehicles. The project was part of a larger announcement, in August 2011, of more than $175 million for Advanced Vehicle Research and Development from the DOE's National Energy Technology Lab. Prior to the grant announcement, Zoltek and Weyerhaeuser worked together on developing a new low-cost route to carbon fiber using a lignin/PAN hybrid. It is anticipated that by combining the earlier technology with improvements in operating and energy efficiencies for carbon conversion, the project may be able to provide lower cost carbon fiber for automotive and other applications. The first commercial scale lignin/PAN precursor fiber demonstration was carried out recently, producing a total of thirteen metric tons of material. Precursor fibers are scheduled for the first commercial scale carbon fiber conversion tests later this year.

Last updated July 3, 2013