“Wood waste is a very good source of biofuels”


Like many other children, Carolina Barcelos wanted to become a veterinarian when she was young. But unlike most kids, Barcelos, who is from Brazil, later became enamored of mathematics and the natural sciences in school. “These subjects attracted me because they involved the solving of very concrete problems,” she says. As a young woman, Barcelos studied process engineering in Rio de Janeiro and wrote her doctoral thesis on the conversion of sweet sorghum into bioethanol. From then on, the recycling of biomass became the key topic of her research career.


Barcelos wants to protect both the climate and the forests by recycling wood waste. “Unti 2050, there will be about 38 million tons of dry wood biomass available every year,” she says. “Wood waste is a very good source for the production of sustainable fuels such as ethanol.” The team headed by Barcelos has developed a very efficient process for this purpose. The raw material consists of agricultural waste and dead wood from forests. A beneficial side effect of this technique is that if much of this wood is converted into biofuel, it could also reduce the risk of forest fires.

Photo:  © 2018 The Regents of the University of California, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

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