State University of New York patents technology that cooks woodchips to produce biofuels, other bio-products but leaves woodchips intact; former Wausau Paper mill in Groveton, New Hampshire, eyed as potential commercial-scale launch site

Audrey Dixon

Audrey Dixon

Sep 10, 2012 – Industry Intelligence Inc.

LOS ANGELES , September 6, 2012 () –

A study of a patented process for making various bio-products from woodchips has named the former Wausau Paper Corp. mill in Groveton, New Hampshire, as a possible full-scale launch site, reported the Union Leader on Sept. 6.

The technology, patented by the State University of New York’s (SUNY) College of Environmental Science and Forestry, involves a 48-hour process that cooks woodchips under pressure to release hemicellulose sugars and lignin while keeping the woodchips intact.

At least 19 bio-products, including biofuels and biodegradable plastics, can be made from the hemicellulose sugars and lignin, while the woodchips can be used to make paper, furniture or pellets for heating, the Union Leader reported.

The study indicates that the processed chips are water-resistant and thereby burn hotter and cleaner than when in their original form when used for fuel; and they can also be burned to generate electricity, said Preston Gilbert, professor at SUNY.

A preliminary draft of the New Forest Economy Market Study was presented last month and the final study is due out next week, with public presentations to be held in October, reported the Union Leader.

The Groveton mill, which has been closed since 2008, could serve to launch the technology for use at other shuttered paper mills and oil refineries, or it could be used at operating paper mills as another source of income, according to the study.

The process allows for profit-making “every step of the way,” said Gilbert, who presented the study to the Northumberland Board of Selectmen in August, the Union Leader reported.

The technology has been proven to work and is used daily on the SUNY campus, said Gilbert. The plan is to take it to the next step, which is to build a commercial-scale operation, he said.

The market study is part of a series of activities focused on redeveloping the Groveton mill site through public funding and private investment, said Patricia Garvin, senior economic planner at the North Country Council Inc. (NCIC).

The study by SUNY and Gilbert was paid for by NCIC through the U.S. Dept. of Commerce/Economic Development Administration and a private fund, reported the Union Leader.

The primary source of this article is the Union Leader, Manchester, New Hampshire, on Sept. 6, 2012.

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