MTI funds project by Biofine to produce biobased levulinic acid

By Erin Voegele | April 15, 2019

The Maine Technology institute has awarded $750,000 to Biofine Developments Northeast to support the development of a commercial biorefinery in Bucksport, Maine, that will produce biobased chemicals from wood biomass.

According to information released by MTI, the facility will deploys Biofine’s technology, which converts woody biomass into the chemical intermediate levulinic acid. MTI said the process will allow for the economic production of a renewable heating oil substitute.

Biofine is working with Treadwill Franklin-Sewall as development consultants, and the University of Maine at Orono for technical operations.

The $750,000 awarded to Biofine is part of a $1.5 million award announcement made by MTI on April 9. The other $750,000 was made to GO Lab Inc. to support the development of wood-based insulation.

Both awards were made under MTI’s Emerging Technology Challenge for Maine’s Forest Resources, which was launched in December 2018 and is part of MTI’s collaboration with the Forest Opportunities Roadmap (FOR/Maine) in supporting the development and/or attraction of emerging technology companies in the forest sector. The challenge uses Biobased Maine as an external contractor to vet and evaluate proposals.

MTI said the coal of the challenge is to help diversity and build more resilience into Maine’s forest industry. Responders to the challenge were expected to submit information to describe their business case, feedstock fit with Maine, the technical and technoeconomic merit of their technology, economic benefits to Maine, and geographic fit. Responses were evaluated for those same criteria. Both recipients must demonstrate a minimum one-to-one match to the challenge grant.