Multimedia - Message from the Director
Since early 2004, I have been driving the University of Maine forest biorefinery effort beginning with a plan for a small-scale manufacturing development facility for technology demonstration and validation. I saw the opportunity for Maine to be a global leader in forest biorefinery development. After evaluation of several conversion scenarios for converting wood into liquid fuels at several potential sites, UMaine’s original 2002 concept of Integrated Forest Product Refinery (IFPR) became the foundation of the “Forest Bioproducts Research Institute” framework. The original IFPR concept is based on the pre-pulping extraction of hemicellulose while preserving cellulose fibers for pulp production. After extensive research, we have developed many more process designs. We have come a long way since 2004. We have developed processes that use a renewable resource allowing us to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels without having a negative impact on the existing forest products industry.
By working together with many partners from Pulp and oriented strand board manufacturing sectors, as well as forest landowners and industry leaders from both the energy and chemical sectors, we are saving jobs, building new businesses, and training future scientists. We can make a major impact on the nation through our work on converting forest biomass into fuels, chemicals, and advanced materials in a sustainable manner.
As you know, our research initiative became a signature program for forest bioproducts, with the research laboratory infrastructure investment made possible by the National Science Foundation and Department of Energy EPSCoR awards, and the addition of the new technology center – a 40,000 sq. ft. facility for biorefinery technology validation on an industrially relevant scale, made possible by the Maine Technology Asset Fund award.