Biomass and Renewable Energy

Schools in Maine slash heating bills by using wood

In the heating season ending in 2013, the Forest Service credited its Wood to Energy Grant Program with helping 24 facilities, including 13 schools or school systems, replace upward of 900,000 gallons of heating oil with locally produced wood chips and pellets that provide the same energy output for less than half the price.  The $11.4 million in funding to support these projects in Maine came from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Genetically engineered poplar trees may open door for cheaper biofuels

By inserting a piece of code isolated from a Chinese herb into the DNA of a poplar tree, scientists at the University of British Columbia, Michigan State and University of Wisconsin-Madison have produced a tree designed for easy deconstruction. These trees can be sterilized to prevent “gene flow” and can be planted on agricultural land d unsuited to food crops, preventing competition.

Safe BPA alternative could come from trees

Researchers have created a greener, safer alternative to BPA using lignin, the compound that gives wood its strength.  Of the 70 million tons of lignin byproduct generated each year, about 98% is incinerated to generate small amounts of energy.  Nothing this, Kaleigh Reno, a graduate student from the University of Delaware heading the project, has developed a process that instead coverts lignin fragments into a compound called bisguaiacol-F (BGF), which has a similar shape to BPA.

Innovation in the paper industry: Maine’s oldest paper mill has new tricks

As bad news for the pulp and paper industries in Maine dominate headlines, a 150-year-old mill has good news.  Built in 1854 and consistently used to produce traditional paper products, Sappi Fine Paper is marketing itself a little differently these days.

“We do not sell paper, we sell texture,” said Donna Cassese, manager of the Westbrook-based mill.