FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — Forest officials are sending a shipment of wood chips collected from an Arizona forest-thinning project to South Korea to test if it could become a viable option to dispose of the excess materials.
The wood was stacked and dried at Camp Navajo in Bellemont before being sent by rail to a California port later this month, the Arizona Daily Sun reported Tuesday.
The 60 shipping containers of wood chips are expected to reach South Korea next month, said Han-Sup Han, director of forest operations and biomass utilization at Northern Arizona University's Ecological Restoration Institute.
JA International plans to use the wood chips for power generation. The South Korean company covered the transportation costs of the one-time shipment.
The shipment aims to test if the project could be expanded. So far it seems promising, said Jeff Halbrook, a research associate at the institute.
"We need to get the transportation costs just right. We need to get the operation just right," Halbrook said. "We're hopeful, very hopeful, we can do this."
The U.S. Forest Service has been looking for ways to better utilize the leftovers from forest thinning. Materials such as pine needles, wood chips and other tree debris — which officials refer to as biomass — are typically piled up and burned. Some of the Arizona material is sent to a small power plant in Snowflake.
If the project proceeds, JA International is looking to get about 500,000 tons (453,000 metric tons) of wood chips annually for 20 years, Han said.
The project would need additional railroad infrastructure at the camp and many more trucks to meet that order, Han said.
Information from: Arizona Daily Sun, http://www.azdailysun.com/