At this time, a small portion of 100 percent biodiesel used in Maine is manufactured in the state.
Much of that is produced by individuals or groups such as The Chewonki Foundation in Wiscasset, a leader in biodiesel use in the state, that produce just enough to power their own vehicles.

Most of Maine’s biodiesel is brought in from Canada and the Midwest by companies including Maine’s first biodiesel dealer, Frontier Energy, located in China, and Independence BioFuel of South Portland. Both sell wholesale and retail product for on and off-road use.

A visionary group of youthful (in their 30s) entrepreneurs aims to increase the amount of biodiesel produced in-state by half a million gallons. Led by 32-year old Jarmin Kaltsas, of Waldoboro, Positive Energy of Portland will recycle oil from 400 restaurants in the Portland area and as far beyond as Rockland. Kaltsas says that because the partners in this venture want to return something to the community, the firm will donate five cents to Habitat for Humanity or Environment Maine for every dollar’s worth of oil collected.

Positive Energy plans to produce 250,000 gallons the first year. The plant, he says, will use technologies developed by the group’s engineer, Chris Geele, and will meet all industry specifications.

Positive Energy has several customers ready and waiting and more are interested. But, Kaltsas says, he hasn’t yet found any interest in the marine industry. He hopes to develop this market, perhaps beginning with Portland ferries and small marinas.

Another biodiesel plant has been proposed by Dirigo Biodiesels, LLC for the Bucksport area, but it is still in the planning stages. If plans go through, the plant would produce 30 million gallons per year from vegetable oils. The company already has biodiesel plants in the Midwest.

In the more distant future, two further options may be available for biodiesel production. Garry Glatz of Independence BioFuel believes extracting oil from algae will eventually prove to be the most economical and environmentally safe method. “It has been done at a large company and at a large educational research level,” he says. “You can take a water tower 20 feet high on a 3-foot by 6-foot footprint and produce as much biodiesel from algae grown in it as you can from three and one-half acres of soybeans. And you can use municipal waste water effluent to grow that algae.”

Scandinavia, he adds, has used oil derived from tall oil pine pitch, obtained from wood waste, to produce biodiesel. That, he observes, would be a natural fit with Maine’s paper mills.

Contacts: Positive Energy, Portland, 207-975-3113; Frontier Energy, South China, 800-773-2409; Independence BioFuel, Durham, 800-288-1883; Maritime Farm, Union, 207-785-2226; Strout’s Point Wharf Company, Freeport, 207-865-3899; Solar Market, Arundel, 207-985-0088; Harvest Fuels, Rockport, 207-236-4172; Sprague Energy, Portland, 207-772-3254.

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