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The economic analysis will show how 1 ton of dry woody biomass per day can be converted at a technology validation facility in Maine into a barrel of biofuel that can be upgraded for use in jets. In Maine, some of that woody biomass is in the form of slash — the treetop residue from the forestry industry.
When the 1 dry ton-to-1 barrel per day evaluation is proven, Pendse says, FBRI will approach Maine landowners about scaling up to 50 or even 100 times that amount for small-scale technology demonstrations.
“In general, landowners are telling us they are interested in pursuing this opportunity,” says Pendse, who also chairs the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering. “We’re working with several landowners to see where in Maine we can provide sufficient woody biomass, for small-, medium- and large-scale commercial biofuels production facilities. Then we will work with some existing wood processing sites and see who wants to participate in taking wood to jet fuel, while preserving current uses of sawlogs and pulpwood.”
Beyond the wood used by pulp and paper mills, there is biomass to spare. According to a 2008 Maine Forest Service assessment of sustainable biomass availability, Maine has around 5 million green tons per year of additional biomass.
Utilization of this native Maine biomass can support 100 million gallons per year of drop-in biofuel production in the state. The Department of Energy estimates that nationally, forest and agricultural biomass is 100 to 200 times that of Maine.