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Hi-Tech Meets Green Tech in Maryland’s Eastern Shore

Green technology and clean enegy is a booming business in Maryland's Eastern Shore region.

By Betsy Williams on May 5, 2015

Maryland’s Eastern Shore region has bred several innovative companies focused on developing clean energy and other sustainable technologies for industrial and agricultural markets, building technological expertise that makes it a prime spot for more growth in the sector.

Located in Caroline County, Ridgely-based Combined Technology Solutions (CTS) has developed an ignition and induction system that lets an engine run with less fuel in the air/fuel mixture, improving fuel economy. Usually lean-burning engines run hot, but CTS found a way past that barrier, so the ultra-lean burning engines actually run cooler. CTS can also wring a lot more horsepower out of a smaller engine. Since 2008, the company has used its technology in the natural gas pipeline industry for the engines that pump gas through the system, and is adapting the technology to auto engines, says president Joe Anderson.

The company has three people working in Caroline County and hopes to add 20 or more jobs as the new technology takes off. Anderson, a former race car driver, was drawn to Maryland’s Eastern Shore by lower land costs and the willingness of the local community to accommodate a new business. It helps that local folks understand the issues that come along with working on engines. CTS subcontracted to perform testing on airplane engines, which had to run around the clock for several days at a time.

“The people in the town said, ‘We’ll work with you, we’re gearheads ourselves,’” Anderson says. CTS leans heavily on the strong work ethic and unique problem-solving skills within the Eastern Shore’s workforce to develop its technologies, says CTS director of systems integration Joe Parlanti, who praises the region’s “farm-boy ingenuity.” “It’s an innate ability to solve problems, and a lot of that is self-taught,” Parlanti says. “When you’re on a farm and something breaks, there’s nobody there to repair it, so you have to learn how to solve that yourself.”

As CTS begins installing its fuel-enhanced technology on engines in the future, the company will need skilled laborers who can take technical direction. To ensure a continued stream of problem-solvers, the firm is participating in Caroline County’s Advanced Manufacturing Professionals (AMP) program, which pairs high school students with local manufacturers and engineers to work on skill-building endeavors.

Reducing the Carbon Footprint

In Federalsburg, Tri Gas & Oil supplies diesel, biodiesel, heating oil and other petroleum products to commercial and residential customers across much of the Delmarva Peninsula on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The third-generation, family-owned company brings in biodiesel by rail cars and custom blends it with petroleum-based products according to customer requirements for both on-road and off-road diesel. Customers use it in fleet vehicles and stationary diesel engines, as well as heating plants. The company developed AGRI-BLEND – its own formulation of soy-based biodiesel that is compatible with existing oil furnaces and boilers to serve its home heating oil customers. Washington College, based in Chestertown, recently became one of the first area institutions to heat its campus with biofuels as part of an effort to reduce its carbon footprint. One of its boilers uses biodiesel fuel from a plant oil-based formula produced by New Generation Biofuels and distributed by Tri Gas & Oil.

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