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February 1, 2018

Maine-based group acquires Old Town pulp mill complex

Courtesy / University of Maine At the University of Maine Forest Bioproducts Research Institute Technology Research Center in the former Old Town pulp mill complex, professor Clay Wheeler, left, and an undergraduate researcher work on an organic acid salt conversion to jet fuel. The new Biomass to Bioproducts Pilot Plant will produce a large quantity of such salts to further research on UMaine's patented conversion technology. The first biomass to be used: cardboard waste. On Wednesday, a joint venture by a Maine-based group of companies announced they had purchased the mill complex and have plans to redevelop it into a wood-fiber-based complex comprised of multiple tenants, including UMaine's FBRI.

OTM Holdings LLC is the new owner of the former Old Town pulp mill complex, with plans to redevelop the site into a wood-fiber-based complex comprised of multiple tenants.

Terms of the purchase from MFGR LLC were not disclosed in the news release announcing the acquisition on Wednesday. OTM Holdings is a joint venture by a Maine-based group of companies committed to the revitalization of Maine’s forest based industry.

"The acquisition saves this important asset from the demolition recently experienced at other shuttered mills and the innovative redevelopment program for the mill will have broad economic impacts for the region, provide jobs and support to Maine’s forest industry," said MFGR LLC partners Bob Maroney of Gordon Brothers and Bill Firestone of CRG in a joint statement.

The redevelopment program envisions a fully integrated fiber-based campus capitalizing on the mill’s energy platform and the region’s plentiful fiber supply.

“This redevelopment is the beginning of what many see as the newest market for Maine’s wood fiber, which transforms the cellulose-based, non-edible fiber and wood waste into clean and affordable high-value fuels, chemicals and milled and engineered wood products,” the new owners stated in a news release.

UMaine research center

A portion of the complex already houses the University of Maine’s Forest Bioproducts Research Institute Technology Research Center, which occupies a 40,000 square foot research facility in the pulp mill’s warehouse.

FBRI is expected to continue its closely-related work on wood fiber’s next-generation value-added products.

As reported by Mainebiz last May, UMaine's FBRI conducted a 100-hour demonstration of continuous operation of the pilot plant to show its capability of processing up to one ton of woody biomass per day into chemicals that can be used to manufacture bioproducts, including biofuels, biochemicals and advanced materials. FBRI

"Chemicals made from biomass could one day be an important revenue source for the forest economy," UMaine FBRI, whose mission is to advance the development and commercialization of forest-based bioproducts, in a news release about the pilot at that time. "Organic acid platform chemicals, as they are known in the industry, have multiple uses, including the production of plastics and other specialty chemicals."

MFGR LLC, a consortium made up of CRG Acquisition, Gordon Brothers Group, Rabin Worldwide and PPL Group, purchased the Old Town mill complex from Kaukauna, Wisc.-based Expera Specialty Solutions in January 2016 for an undisclosed price.

The assets were identified in a news release at that time as including 400,000 square feet of warehouse buildings, a waste water treatment plant, a 16 MW bio mass boiler and approximately 300 acres of land with roughly another 4,000 feet of frontage on the Penobscot River.

Read more

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