Skip to main content

2000 R&D 100 Award Winner

Real-Time Biomass Analysis

Developers: Dr. Bob Meglen, Dr. Steve Kelly, and Dr. Bonnie Hames, National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Real-Time Biomass Analysis (RTBA), is a portable system that employs a laser and a spectrometer to quickly and inexpensively determine the chemical composition and the mechanical properties of wood, whether that wood is raw, is being processed, or is in finished materials. As such, the RTBA system is a valuable analytical tool for the forest products and paper industries.

Real-Time Biomass Analysis can be easily mobilized, allowing foresters to analyze trees where they stand, and thereby to sort those trees according to their best use — veneer, paper, lumber, or pulp. Providing these real-time results on-site, rather than shipping them off to the lab, saves time and money and saves trees from being prematurely harvested. The key to RTBA is the use of multivariate analysis to calibrate the near-infrared spectrometry to the specific parameters that are valuable to the paper and forest industries.