UMaine to Study "Trashanol" Effect in Maine

- by Grady Trimble,  October 24, 2014, WLBZ

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"298","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","style":"width: 333px; height: 210px; float: left; margin: 3px 10px;"}}]]A team of University of Maine researchers are gearing up to study the possibility of bringing new technology called "Trashanol" to Maine.

"Trashanol" is a waste-to-energy technology developed by Maryland-based company Fiberight. Basically, it is a process that converts household waste into fuel.

The technology is sparking interest in Eastern Maine, because pretty soon, nearly 200 towns in the region will face substantially higher costs to dispose of their trash at the PERC plant in Orrington. The long term contracts for those towns is up in 2018, and they are all expecting PERC will drastically increase their fees.

Those towns, which are represented by the Municipal Review Committee, or MRC, hired UMaine researchers to explore "Trashanol" as an alternative. While the deal hasn't been finalized yet, MRC will spend $20,000 for the research. Dr. Hemant Pendse with UMaine's Forest Biodproducts Research Institute will lead it.

The institute has a lot of experience in creating energy from pulp wood and other wood products, and Dr. Pendse said the chemical properties of Municipal Solid Waste are very similar to wood.

"Trashanol" is a fuel derived from the cellulosic sugars from waste products. It is an addititve to the gas we put in our cars.

Dr. Pendse and his team will visit Fiberight's "Trashanol" project site in Virginia. Right now that is just a pilot-scale operation, but both Pendse and MRC officials said they think "Trashanol" will be ready for full-scale operation in Maine by 2018.

"Technical expertise that they bring to the table in projects such as this will just give us additional confidence that we have a full and complete understanding of what the capabilities of the technology are," MRC Executive Director Greg Lounder said.

As far as paying for a "Trashanol" facility in Maine, MRC officials said Fiberight will be responsible for raising most of the money to build it and will look for private investors.