Saturday, November 27

The “liquid gold” that Spanish forests hide: this is the century-old technology that wants to become the oil of the future

It’s March. A young resin producer walks among that mass of 400,000 hectares of forests that we call Tierra de Pinares and Sierra de Gredos. The tools are more surgical and ergonomic, but the trade hasn’t changed in hundreds of years: first the tree is rubbed (the bark is removed) and then, with the crescent, the staple that will direct the look towards the pots is embedded. Later, the spades are made, those diagonal incisions that cause the “bleeding”; that is to say, the resin seeps and seeps little by little into the containers that will be collected weeks later.

In 1961, Spain produced 55,267 tons of resin. More than 90% came from the forests of Ávila, Segovia and Valladolid. Then, as happened with southeastern esparto, oil wiped out everything and the production was languishing until almost disappearing in the decade of the 90. In the new world of the “Age of Optimism”, what was once pure “liquid gold” had become an atavism of the past. 30 years later, everything has changed.

The oil of the future is called resin

Resin in Castilla y León

Driven by the crisis of the plastic culture, the last decade has been a ‘revival’ of the world and the resin industry. Not only has it been re-resin, but little by little the research programs and national plans are beginning to recover. The curious thing is that, compared to other resin powers such as Brazil or China, the heart of the European resin industry is incardinated in Castilla y León.

Resin is the oil of the world today and of the future. The idea is that all uses of oil are replaced by resin “, stated on the BBC Blanca Rodríguez-Chaves, vice-dean of the Faculty of Law of the Autonomous University of Madrid and it is not a provocation, but something completely feasible.

What explained in Very interesting Juan Luis Delgado, researcher at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, “both pine resin derivatives and petroleum derivatives are hydrocarbons: the first of vegetable origin and the second of mineral origin. In such a way, due to their physical-chemical composition, they could be used in almost the same applications “.

The dominance of oil over resin was due, in large part, to the fact that the technology of the moment made it easier to control the quality of synthetic products than of those obtained from natural resins. Day by day, current technology allows us to emancipate ourselves from variables such as the weather, the date of harvest, the species of pine or the method of distillation; And, in fact, most petroleum products are already made with resin.

Now it remains to transform all that potential into a reality. In 2011, the Castilla y León Resin Table and, in recent years, companies and institutions are trying to turn the new resin industry into a factor that enhances the development of “Empty Spain” and contributes to keeping the country’s forests in good condition.

Policies against climate change and the international logistics crisis offer a historic opportunity for this project to pick up speed. The big question now is whether we will let the opportunity pass without even having tried.

Image | YS

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