Biofuels research firm setting up shop in Bucksport

Posted Aug. 19, 2011, at 4:44 p.m.

BUCKSPORT, Maine — An upstart research firm hoping to develop new blends of diesel fuels for commercial engines plans to open its first facility in a Bucksport industrial park.

SeaChange Group LLC currently consists of six partners located throughout the state, although the firm is officially based in Cape Elizabeth. Sometime next month, the firm plans to move into vacant space within Buckstown Heritage Park, located just off of Routes 1 and 46.

On Thursday night, members of the town planning board unanimously approved SeaChange’s application to set up shop within the industrial park.

Scott Eaton, chief science officer with SeaChange, said the company hopes to eventually employ six to 10 people, although only a handful will work at the Bucksport site initially.

“We are a start-up,” Eaton said. “We are at the point where we are looking to settle at a permanent facility.”

Because of the proprietary nature of SeaChange’s work, Eaton did not provide too many details to planning board members or during an interview afterward.

The firm’s website said their focus is on creating low-emissions fuel blends from bio-based sources with a goal of making “the use of sustainable energy sources practical by removing the financial barriers to being green.”

Eaton said the research team is exploring formulations of both bio-based and petroleum-based fuels for potential use in heavy transportation engines, such as those for locomotives or commercial ships, as well as for power generation.

The group will be working with small quantities of fuel in their laboratory. Engine testing will be performed in a special, sound-proofed building on site to minimize the chance of disturbing neighbors, Eaton said.

SeaChange has already forged a relationship with Maine Maritime Academy and plans to work with faculty and students there. Eaton said the firm also hopes to work with researchers at the University of Maine in Orono who are also seeking to develop bio-based fuels.

Research likely will begin at SeaChange’s new site in October or November.

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