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New Shipboard Phytosanitation Technology Supports Biomass Wood Chip Exports to EU

Maine’s Eastport Port Authority recently announced a series of licensing, financing, and construction agreements that will enable the near-term installation a shipboard phytosanitation system for treating mixed conifer biomass wood chip cargo at the port of Eastport. The heat-treating system eliminates pests and other pathogens in wood fibers before shipment and is designed to meet the European Union’s stringent phytosanitary import requirements and current USDA regulations. The decision paves the way for the export of bulk wood chips from Maine to the EU for use as biomass fuel as early as Spring 2017.

Maine-based company Phyto-Charter, Inc. developed the patent-pending technology planned for the Eastport facility. According to the company’s website, the system operates on the pier as a cargo vessel is being loaded with wood chips. The system treats the wood fiber by recirculating moisture laden air through a near-airtight chamber to bring the cargo to a temperature of 56°C until sanitized.

Recent reporting by The Quoddy Tides indicates that the Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT) agreed to provide $1.65M in state financing to complete the project in recognition of the benefits to the port and the region. Maine’s forest products industry also stands to benefit from the project, as the export of wood fiber from Maine into the EU has not been possible until the development of a viable heat treating system to meet the phytosanitary requirements of importing countries.

Eastport is located in downeast Maine at the mouth of the Bay of Fundy and is home to the deepest shipping port on the east coast of the United States. Approach depths to the central pier facility are well in excess of 100 feet and the mean low water depth pierside is 64 feet. For additional reporting on the continued development of Maine’s shipping ports visit our previous post: Maine Port Authority Seeks Entity to Build and Operate a Cold-Storage Facility in Portland.

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