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Former Lincoln, Maine Paper Mill Likely to Be Site of $100M Biorefinery

Tue March 28, 2023 - Northeast Edition #8

Biofine’s technology is demonstrated at the B2P2 Pilot Plant located at the University of Maine-Forest Bioproducts Research Institute-Technology Research Center in Old Town, Maine. (Photo courtesy of Biofine Technology)
Biofine’s technology is demonstrated at the B2P2 Pilot Plant located at the University of Maine-Forest Bioproducts Research Institute-Technology Research Center in Old Town, Maine. (Photo courtesy of Biofine Technology)

The Lincoln Town Council in Maine has voted to approve a 20-year lease between the town and Biofine Developments Northeast for a biofuel refinery on the site of the former Lincoln Pulp and Tissue Mill, now known as the Lincoln Technology Park.

Construction is expected to commence by July 2024 in the first phase of a long-term plan, according to a news release from Biofine dated March 22.

The project is expected to require a private sector investment of more than $100 million and create over 160 jobs. Subsequent phases could result in the ultimate creation of nearly 500 jobs and substantial added private investment.

Biofine develops bio-refinery projects utilizing proprietary processes developed by Biofine Technology LLC in Boston. The company's proprietary technology derives heating and transportation fuel from low-quality woody biomass — made up of pre-commercial thinnings and production leavings, or "slash," and/or from post-consumer paper waste.

The fuel produced by the process is called ethyl levulinate.

According to Biofine, the fuel is the single lowest carbon-intensity liquid fuel commercially available anywhere in the world. The company has successfully demonstrated the technology over many years in association with the Forest Bioproducts Research Institute at the University of Maine.

Biofine said it will produce three million gallons of ethyl levulinate annually, along with co-products, levulinic acid and biochar, from 125 tons per day of cellulosic wood waste. Plans for later phases of the Lincoln biorefinery are projected to increase production approximately 10-fold.

Stephen Fitzpatrick, Biofine's CEO, explained that ethyl levulinate "is an important transitional and long-term renewable biofuel that accretes value to producers and end-users alike for decades to come."

New Refinery Could Spark More Tech-Driven Industries in Lincoln

The lease deal took place after many months of negotiations and working through many site issues, Mainebiz reported.

"We view this significant biorefinery project as just the beginning of an exciting economic revitalization of the old mill site, with other beneficial projects to come," explained Lincoln Town Council Chair George Edwards.

The former Lincoln Paper and Tissue mill site spans approximately 387 acres. Now part of the Lincoln Technology Park, the site is envisioned as a center for next-generation technology-driven industries.

Biofine, established in 2019, is a subsidiary of Brookline, Mass.-based Biofine Technologies Inc., which has developed the refining processes.

Its technology has been supported by state agencies and enterprises that include a grant from the Maine Technology Institute and technical development support from the University of Maine Forest Bioproducts Research Institute for the commercialization of Biofine's patented process.

The company retained Treadwell Franklin Infrastructure Capital of Portland for development services and financing. Treadwell Franklin is an integrated infrastructure business focused on municipal, institutional, and energy infrastructure and services in New England and the Northeast United States.

At one time, the Lincoln Pulp and Tissue mill was the town's second-largest taxpayer and third-largest employer. It closed in 2015 during bankruptcy proceedings.

Lincoln is a town of about 5,000 people located off Interstate 95 north of Bangor in east-central Maine.

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