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Biofuels & Oils

Biofine and Sprague partner to market next generation of biofuels

In the United States (US), biorefinery process developer Biofine Developments Northeast Inc. (Biofine) and petroleum fuel distributor Sprague Resources LP (Sprague) have recently announced a transaction focused on bringing the next generation of advanced biofuel, ethyl levulinate (EL), to the market. 

The Biofine technology to make the next generation of advanced biofuel, ethyl levulinate (EL), from organic residues such as wood waste, food waste, municipal solid waste (MSW or waste paper, was developed by Dr Stephen W. Fitzpatrick. A pilot plant is owned and operated by the University of Maine (UMaine – FBRI) and the technology is now ready for commercial development.  The first market application for EL is as zero-emission heating fuel. Future opportunities may include zero-emission energy options for transportation, marine, and jet fuels. Combustion testing EL fuel (photo courtesy NORA).

Biofine Developments Northeast Inc. (Biofine) is focused on establishing a biorefining industry in Maine (ME) in order to leverage its ongoing collaborative R&D work at the University of Maine and the State of Maine’s unique combination of industrial infrastructure and abundant wood-based biomass resources.

The Biofine technology enables the production of high-value renewable biofuels such as ethyl levulinate (EL) from cellulosic residues, including non-food feedstock such as wood, agricultural residues, and municipal waste fibre.

Purchase agreement

Biofine is the exclusive licensee of the proprietary intellectual property and numerous significant patents at the core of the ethyl levulinate (EL) production process.

EL’s beneficial technical qualities, including its clean-burning and cold temperature handling properties, have led the National Oilheat Research Alliance (NORA), National Energy and Fuels Institute (NEFI), and other trade associations to significantly support and embrace EL as an advanced biofuel.

Biofine and Sprague have signed a purchase agreement for the production and marketing of EL, a product poised to revolutionize the heating oil market by transforming waste material into zero-emission heating fuel.

We’re honored and pleased to be able to work with Sprague on this exciting undertaking and feel our collaboration will prove to be a successful and important threshold event for the liquid fuels industry. Biofine believes strongly in the merits of our products, and we’re happy to work with an organization like Sprague, with a long history of promoting renewable liquid fuels throughout the Northeast said Dr Stephen Fitzpatrick, President and CEO of Biofine.

Under the terms of the agreement, Sprague will facilitate the commercialization of EL through its commitment to purchase and market a significant portion of the fuel produced from Biofine’s first production facility.

In our 150th year of business, this is another great example of our continued commitment to energy innovation. As customers increasingly seek to use more renewable liquid fuels, we are excited to expand our portfolio of offerings using our existing infrastructure, said David Glendon, President and CEO of Sprague.

Two decades of R&D

The production of energy from waste materials has been a key objective for Dr Stephen Fitzpatrick for more than 20 years. Biofine was awarded grant funding to commercialize the EL production process through the Maine Technology Institute’s Emerging Technology Challenge for Maine’s Forest Resource in 2019.

After extensive research and testing, and successful completion of a large-scale field test, we are excited to move on to the commercialization of ethyl levulinate (EL), said Dr Fitzpatrick.

Under the direction of Dr Fitzpatrick and Chief Development Officer Mike Cassata, Biofine has assembled a team, including the University of Maine-Forest Bioproducts Research Institute (UMaine-FBRI) that has worked with Biofine to validate and demonstrate the technology at pilot scale and Treadwell Franklin Infrastructure Capital (TFIC), as a development agent, to advance multiple biorefinery projects producing EL and co-products on an industrial scale utilizing Maine derived forest residues.

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