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Old Town Mill Eyed for Full-Scale Plant to Turn Wood Pulp into Ingredient for Diesel, Jet Fuel

Submitted by on May 4, 2017 – 12:00 pmNo Comment

by Tux Turkel (Portland Press Herald)  ‘The biggest obstacle now is financing,’ says Stephen Fitzpatrick, president of Biofine Technology LLC, which is partnering with UMaine on a pilot plant at the site.  —  The former Old Town Fuel and Fiber mill here could become the site of a $60 million production facility making a raw material that can help turn wood fiber into jet fuel, the president of a Massachusetts biotech company said Wednesday.

“The Old Town mill is one of the sites we’re looking at, but I think we can build several plants,” said Stephen Fitzpatrick, president of Biofine Technology LLC in Framingham, Massachusetts.

Fitzpatrick was on hand Wednesday at the University of Maine’s Technology Research Center, where a pilot plant that can process up to a ton a day of wood fiber into chemicals to make biofuels and biochemicals was undergoing advanced testing. The plant was on track to operate for 100 hours, a step to help prove its ability to operate at a commercial scale.

Media, government officials and business representatives were given a tour of the pilot plant, located inside the university’s facility in a corner of the mill.

The chemical acids produced by the plant — essentially a form of crude oil — are used in the university’s patented conversion technology to make diesel and jet fuel from woody biomass. The technology was developed by the Forest Bioproducts Research Institute.

Five paper mills, including the one here at Old Town, have closed in the past three years, removing thousands of jobs and an estimated $1.3 billion from the state’s economy.

During the tour, Hemant Pendse, the institute’s director, held up a small beaker of the liquid. He noted that low worldwide petroleum prices have slowed progress on biofuels. It’s possible, he said, that heating oil and diesel fuel will become commercially viable before jet fuel, because they are easier to produce.   READ MORE

 

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