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Review article - Peer-reviewed, 2012

Microbial communities in large-scale wood piles and their effects on wood quality and the environment

Noll, Matthias; Jirjis, Raida


The demand of renewable energy sources, i.e. biomass, is steadily increasing worldwide to reduce the need of fossil energy sources. Biomass such as energy crops, woody species, forestry and agricultural residues are the most common renewable energy sources. Due to uneven demand for wood fuel, the material is mostly stored outdoors in chip piles or as logs until utilisation. Storage of biomass is accompanied by chemical, physical and biological processes which can significantly reduce the fuel quality. However, heating plants require high-quality biomass to ensure efficient operation, thereby minimising maintenance costs. Therefore, optimised storage conditions and duration times for chipped wood and tree logs have to be found. This paper aims at reviewing available knowledge on the pathways of microbial effects on stored woody biomass and on investigations of the fungal and bacterial community structure and identity. Moreover, potential functions of microorganisms present in wood chip piles and logs are discussed in terms of (1) reduction of fuel quality, (2) catalysing self-ignition processes, and (3) constituting health risk and unfriendly work environment.


Bacteria; Fuel quality; Fungi; Self-ignition; Storage; Wood piles

Published in

Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
2012, volume: 95, number: 3, pages: 551-563
Publisher: SPRINGER

Authors' information

Noll, Matthias
Coburg University of Applied Sciences
Jirjis, Raida
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Energy and Technology

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG7 Affordable and clean energy

UKÄ Subject classification

Medical Biotechnology (with a focus on Cell Biology (including Stem Cell Biology), Molecular Biology, Microbiology, Biochemistry or Biopharmacy)

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