FBRI Proposes Research Partnership With Corinth Wood Pellet Plant

Dr. Douglas Gardner (FBRI faculty) and a visiting PhD candidate from Norway working on wood pellet technology are proposing joint research with Corinth Wood Pellets LLC of Corinth, Maine. Company owner Kenneth Eldridge explains: “As a new producer of wood pellet fuel in Maine, we are interested in partnering with researchers at the University of Maine on ways to enhance our production process.. From discussions with FBRI researchers we learned that wood lignin can be added to wood pellets to enhance their heating values and also lower production costs. There may also be potential to obtain lignin from Maine pulp and paper facilities and future wood-based ethanol producing facilities. Finding a use for the lignin by-product is a very important aspect of wood to ethanol research as the ability to separate lignin from mill waste so it could be sold to a pellet manufacturer would allow a pulp mill to process more pulp as well as provide additional revenue.

Several pulp mills in Maine each have the capacity to produce sufficient quantities of lignin to supply local pellet manufactures. Additionally, the process of extracting hemicellulose from wood chips or strands, as employed in the UMaine Forest Biorefinery concept, generates a significant amount of lignin that could be used in pellet manufacturing.

We also want to use this opportunity to examine the market in Europe for wood pellets produced with lignin. In Europe, wood pellets are used industrially as fuel in power plants in the same scale as the amount that is used for residential heating. Niels Peter K. Nielsen (a visiting PhD researcher working at UMe) is collaborating with a Danish Energy company that is a large pellet consumer for heat and electricity production. Through this contact, we have the opportunity to meet with potential European buyers of wood pellets containing lignin.”