Standard Biocarbon signs Letter of Intent for biocarbon plant in Portland
In the United States (US), start-up company Standard Biocarbon Corporation (Standard Biocarbon) has recently announced that it has signed a Letter of Intent (LoI) with the East Millinocket Industrials, Inc. Board of Directors to site a pyrolysis plant to convert low-grade biomass into biocarbon, the carbon component of wood, at the former Great Northern Paper Company mill site in Portland, Maine (ME).
According to a statement, the facility will use low-grade wood traditionally harvested for paper making or power generation to produce biocarbon, sold commercially as “biochar” and currently used in agriculture and environmental remediation.
Biocarbon, with properties similar to activated carbon, improves soil productivity, reducing the need for irrigation and fertilizer. It’s also an alternative to mined peat moss. And because biocarbon binds with heavy metals, phosphorus, and other soil and water contaminants it can be used in environmental clean-up.
Biocarbon is also seen as a powerful tool in fighting global warming. Standard Biocarbon’s pyrolysis process will permanently remove carbon from the atmosphere that would otherwise be released through combustion or decomposition. Biocarbon is chemically stable and persists for hundreds of years in the soil.
One tonne of biocarbon locked into the soil equates to about 3.5 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) being permanently removed from the atmosphere. Standard Biocarbon expects to certify that it has permanently sequestered approximately 10 000 tonnes of CO2 in the first year of operations.
Site offers scalability
Located at the terminus of Maine’s legendary Golden Road the planned site for the Standard Biocarbon’s facility offers a vastly scalable, stable feedstock supply with the same fundamental efficiency advantages it afforded Great Northern Paper in an earlier era.
It takes five tonnes of wood to produce one tonne of biochar and the East Millinocket location close to this feedstock is critical. Additional modular production lines will be added as production is scaled to meet demand.
Excess heat from the plant will be used for district heating of buildings on-site and will be offered to energy-intensive tenants as an incentive to locate in the refurbished mill complex.
Since 2014 Maine has lost markets for 4.3 million tonnes of low-grade forest products such as pulpwood and biomass, due to the shuttering of paper mills and biomass power plants.
According to the company, Biocarbon extraction from wood offers a new and viable means to sustainably use Maine’s vast working forests and wood products infrastructure to grow Maine’s economy, and create jobs in an environmentally friendly manner. Standard Biocarbon plans to be the leader in this new industry for Maine.