July 20, 2019
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Maine tech group awards $1.5 million for forest products innovation

Ashley L. Conti | BDN
Ashley L. Conti | BDN
In this May 2017 file photo, Wood chips seen during a tour at the University of Maine Technology Research Center in Old Town in May 2017. Biofine, a Massachusetts company, demonstrated its pilot biorefinery project in the former Old Town Fuel and Fiber mill.

Two emerging technology companies focusing on forest resources will each receive $750,000 to further develop their products.

The Maine Technology Institute approved the awards for the Emerging Technology Challenge for Maine’s Forest Resources, which aims to attract emerging technology companies to the forest resource sector and support those that are already developing new products.

MTI said the forest industry contributes about $8.5 billion annually to the state’s economy, with the potential to grow to $12 billion by 2025.

GO Lab Inc., a building products manufacturer in Belfast, won one of the awards for its insulation. Made from wood fiber, it is renewable, recyclable, nontoxic and performs as well or better than other available insulations, according to MTI.

GO Lab’s production facility at the former UPM paper mill in Madison is expected to consume 180,000 tons of softwood chips annually, create 100 jobs and generate approximately $70 million in annual revenue.

Biofine Developments Northeast won the other award. Biofine Developments, based in Bangor, is the exclusive licensee of technology from Biofine, a Massachusetts company. It will use the money for commercial development of the technology at a large-scale biorefinery in Bucksport.

This plant will convert to a chemical intermediate, levulinic acid, to produce a new renewable heating oil substitute. Biofine will work with Treadwell Franklin-Sewall as development consultants and the University of Maine at Orono for technical operations.

MTI President Brian Whitney said the innovation challenge was an opportunity for his organization to identify promising and innovative technologies for the forest industry. He said it is a model that can be used in other industries as well.

Charlotte Mace, executive director of Biobased Maine, said new forest technologies will help to diversity and sustain the industry.

 



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