[NEWS] Maine Trees Could Fuel Military Jets
– by Christopher Burns, August 20, 2016, Bangor Daily News
For the last decade, there has been a concerted push in the U.S. to replace petroleum-based fuel with plant-based biofuels in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the nation’s reliance on foreign oil.
The alternative fuel revolution has so far belonged to corn, but efforts to develop a wood-based biofuel, particularly jet fuel, from Maine’s abundant timberland got a boost last month when the U.S. Department of Defense announced a $3.3 million investment into ongoing research at the University of Maine. This infusion comes as part of federal measures to help Maine’s flagging economy after a spate of mill closures.
This new investment from the federal government can potentially give the university’s Forest Bioproducts Research Institute the support it needs to “scale up” the production of biofuel for demonstration purposes to test it for commercial use, according to Jake Ward, the university’s vice president of innovation and economic development.
It’s been a slow transition from the laboratory to the gas pump for wood-based, or cellulosic, biofuel. The challenge that cellulosic biofuel faces in dislodging corn’s grip on production is that a low price for a barrel of oil coupled with high startup costs make it an expensive industry in which to invest.