Northern states turn to biomass to heat homes and buildings

Written on: October 29, 2020 by ICM

According to recent news reports, two northern States are turning to plant sources to create heat and heating oil.
Biofine Developments Northeast Inc. of Bangor, ME has formed a partnership with Sprague Resources LP, Portsmouth, NH to produce a patented biofuel made from forest product waste, the Press Herald reported. Biofine has spent 20 years on R&D to create this heating oil based on 100% ethyl levulinate, or EL.
Biofine said it hopes to finalize the site of its first biorefinery within the next month and be operational by 2023, the Press Herald said. The plant would process 100 tons a day of cellulose-based waste, mostly from paper and lumber mills, to make 3 million gallons of zero-emission heating oil per year. The process would also create a side stream of renewable chemical byproducts that could be sold.
Policy makers in Maine and across the Northeast have been pushing homeowners to dump boilers and furnaces that run on oil in favor of efficient electric units such as heat pumps. However this biomass-based heating oil could become a locally-produced, renewable energy source in a State where 60% of homes still rely on oil as their primary heat source.
Meanwhile in Kake, AK, the small village plans to build a biomass district heating system to warm its public buildings while saving the community nearly $100,000 annually in energy costs, according to KSKA-FM and Alaska’s Energy Desk. It would use sensors and multiple chambers to burn wood efficiently, leftover from the thinning of second growth forests or timber operations, with similar air quality impacts as heating oil systems.
Kake was awarded a federal Department of Agriculture grant to design its biomass system. The village is now seeking funding, KSKA-FM said.
Alaska village turns to biomass heating for cheaper energy
Company plans biorefinery for zero-emission heating oil in Maine