June 21, 2018
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Thermogen officials to meet with Millinocket planning board about new plant

By Nick Sambides Jr., BDN Staff

MILLINOCKET, Maine — A New Hampshire-based developer of New England’s first torrefied wood facility will meet with the planning board on Wednesday to discuss its proposal, officials said Tuesday.

The planning board will meet at 5:30 p.m. at the town office to hear from officials from Thermogen Industries LLC, who plan to build their plant in the wood yard of the Katahdin Avenue paper mill, officials said.

The application appears to be on schedule with the board and with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, Town Manager Eugene Conlogue said.

“If they get their permit by the end of August, they could break ground in September,” Conlogue said.

According to the application filed with the state, the torrefied wood chips will be transformed from wood waste into “stable and water-resistant” pellets containing 30 percent more energy than standard wood pellets. DEP officials began their review on June 4.

The facility will be a major source of volatile organic compounds, producing an estimated 50 tons annually of VOCs, which according to the federal Environmental Protection Agency can cause a host of health problems.

Though the facility would be the first of its kind in New England and its process the first in the world to use microwaves to produce torrefied wood, state officials have said they don’t expect any particular problems with the review or the presence of VOCs.

Facilities on a list of similar major-source pollutants include the East Millinocket and Millinocket paper mills, Lincoln Paper and Tissue LLC and the Indeck biomass boiler in Enfield. All of them have scrubbers or other devices that contain or eliminate pollutant emissions or keep them within acceptable standards, state officials have said.

Cate Street Capital officials have said that the $35 million facility will use a Targeted Intelligent Energy System built by Scotland-based Rotawave Biocoal to manufacture biocoal, or torrefied wood. Located in New Hampshire, Cate Street is a parent company of Thermogen.

The machine would be at least as quiet and odor-free as the paper mill it would go next to. The plant would hire 25 full-time workers and begin producing, from about 240,000 to 250,000 tons of wood wastes, about 110,000 tons of torrefied wood pellets annually for sale to British and European coal-fired electricity plants. Cate Street expects the facility to start in summer 2013.

A call to Cate Street’s spokesman was not immediately returned on Tuesday.

The facility would be part of an industrial park Cate Street hopes to build on the mill premises.

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