BDN interviews Wheeler, Bilodeau about biofuels

Clay Wheeler and Michael Bilodeau were interviewed for a Bangor Daily News piece about hurdles that biofuels must clear in order to help revitalize communities hurt by the decline of paper industries. “The economics are tough because the capital investment — at least for these first-of-a-kind plants — is very high,” said Wheeler, who researches biofuels in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at the University of Maine. “We’re taking one of the finest materials that nature has engineered — that has uses as building materials and paper and other things using nanocellulose fibers — and we’re converting it to something that we actually don’t value very much, which is transportation fuels. We have made ourselves available to help do due diligence on some of these projects.” Bilodeau, director of the UMaine Process Development Center that offers research and development services to Forest Products and allied companies, said ethanol production from wood pulp dates back to 1905.