With help from federal funding, two forest bioproducts processing plants at the University of Maine will upgrade their equipment to expand their research into finding renewable energy uses for wood byproducts, such as jet fuel or home heating oil.

The university’s Forest Bioproducts Research Institute was awarded $4.8 million from the Defense Logistics Agency in September to continue its research into creating hydrocarbon fuel from biomass, like sawdust, tree bark, twigs and wood chips. The institute — which operates the Technology Research Center in Old Town and the on-campus Process Development Center — researches ways to repurpose wood biomass outside of Maine’s traditional lumber uses.

Established in 2012, the Technology Research Center is a pilot plant located in the Old Town mill that researches how to turn wood byproducts, such as sawdust, into organic acid which can then be made into crude oil — like petroleum. But unlike petroleum, it’s a renewable resource.

Normally, the Research Center has to collect the sawdust on their own and then bring it back to the plant where they grind it down and strain it to be small enough for processing. But this year, the institute is purchasing new equipment to improve efficiency.

The institute is upgrading its biomass processing equipment to help convey the materials from one process to the next.

Megan Diver

Megan has worked in Maine politics for more than ten years and all of her professional career, having served in many roles for elected officials (including former Secretary of State Charlie Summers), in-house with the Maine Association of REALTORS®, legislative specialist at Pierce Atwood LLP providing lobbying services and support to Pierce Atwood’s government relations clients and most recently senior government relations specialist at the Maine State Chamber of Commerce. Megan currently is the Vice President at the Maine Energy Marketers Association, utilizing her vast knowledge and legislative experience at the State House to represent MEMA on policies relating to the Association and its members.