SOUTHBOROUGH, Mass.-- Imagine the fuel that heats your home was so clean it helped remove carbon and other greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. Residents of Lincoln, Maine won't have to imagine for long — soon such a fuel will be produced in their community.
Biofine Developments Northeast (BDNE), a biofuel producer and member of the National Energy & Fuels Institute (NEFI), announced an agreement with the town of Lincoln to establish a biorefinery at the former mill site located at 20 Depot Street. The plant will convert forest waste into a biofuel called ethyl levulinate (EL), which can replace heating oil or be blended into it alongside other renewable fuels.
Because EL is made from forest waste, it produces net-negative emissions and may help revitalize the state's forest economy. "The multi-phase biorefinery in Lincoln will help establish Maine as a hub of innovation and a leader in the emerging industrial bioeconomy," said Mike Cassata, chief developments officer, BDNE.
BDNE estimates its Lincoln biorefinery will create 200 full-time jobs, with the potential for approximately 2,000 over time. The EL produced in Lincoln will reduce Maine's GHG emissions 40,000 metric tons (mt) per year, the carbon captured by 49,000 acres of forest. BDNE sees the potential for 4 million mt of annual reductions, 40 percent of the state's benchmark for 2030.
The heating oil industry has embraced EL as an affordable decarbonization solution. The fuel has been successfully tested for a decade by the National Oilheat Research Alliance and endorsed by NEFI, which aims to reduce the industry's emissions 40 percent by 2030 and reach net-zero by 2050.
"Renewable liquid heating fuels deliver the quickest, most cost-effective and reliable path to net-zero for the Northeast, and EL will be key to getting us there without threatening America's energy security or grid resiliency," said NEFI President and CEO Sean Cota.
BDNE continues to seek commercialization opportunities for EL. In 2020, Sprague Resources, one of the largest heating oil wholesalers in the Northeast, announced a purchase agreement with BDNE. Sprague will buy a significant portion of the EL produced in Lincoln, and with an extensive terminal network, is positioned to supply the renewable fuel to heating oil dealers across the region.
SOURCE National Energy & Fuels Institute