UMaine Researcher Outlines Biorefinery Potential for Maine Pulp Mills

ORONO — Incorporating biorefineries into suitable pulp mills in Maine could help to wean the state from its crippling dependence on imported fossil fuels while also allowing it to maintain its traditional manufacturing base, according to a study released recently by the University of Maine’s Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center.

In the “Maine Bioproducts Business Pathway” report, research associate Kate Dickerson outlines in detail how the six mills in Maine that use the kraft pulping process could integrate technology developed at UMaine to produce valuable ethanol and acetic acid from woody biomass without degrading the quality of the pulp they make.

Red Shield Environment LLC intends to use UMaine’s “near-neutral” hemicellulose extraction process for a proposed biorefinery at its Old Town pulp mill.

“This report will really be helpful for people who don’t have an in-depth knowledge of the pulp industry to see how research and development can be a big part of the energy puzzle,” says Dickerson, who would like the report to be required reading for all Maine policymakers.

Although it emphasizes the UMaine technology, the report also discusses other processes that could be utilized in a Maine biorefinery. Dickerson analyzes the potential investment, production and transportation costs for establishing such operations, as well as the proximities to wood resources and product transportation costs for potential wholesale and retail customers in the state.

“Maine Bioproducts Business Pathway” can be found under the “Publications” heading on the Margaret Chase Smith Center website at