Tag Archive for: Bio4Energy Biopolymers and Biochemical Conversion

R&I on Bio Based in EU projects: ‘We Could Be More Proactive’

Bio4Energy’s new coordinator for member organisation Bio-based Industries’ Consortium, Carlos Martín of Umeå University, is in Brussels, Belgium to network with industry members with a view to lay the foundations for an EU project.

February 8 BIC members met to network with companies, consultants and academics. The aim is jointly to apply for funds from the Circular Bio-based Joint Undertaking (CBE JU), which is a partnership between BIC and the European Union.

“On the Bio4Energy platforms we have expertise and knowledge of value for forming strong EU projects”, Martín said.

“On the Bio4Energy platforms we have expertise and knowledge of value for forming strong EU projects”.

“We are interested in the topic Biotech routes to obtain bio-based chemicals or materials to replace animal-derived ones”, he added.

As Martín points out, there is a lot at stake. The CBE JU partnership itself is worth €2 billion, according to its website.

It corresponds to the part of the Horizon Europe research and innovation (R&I) programme that is concerned with “advancing competitive circular bio-based industries”.

More specifically, it aims to accelerate the development of bio-based innovative solutions and their market deployment, while ensuring a high level of environmental performance of bio-based industrial systems.

“We could be more proactive toward partnerships and programs under Horizon 2020, including the [Joint Undertaking]”, Martin said;

“We have strong research that competes well with that of groups leading successful project proposals”.

Carlos Martín Medina is a long-standing member of the research environment Bio4Energy and its research platform Biopolymers and Biochemical Conversion. He has been part of developing state-of-the-art pre-treatment methods that allows for easier breakdown of woody biomass for conversion to liquid biofuels, together with current programme manager Leif Jönsson of Umeå University.

Having come to lean toward bio-based materials, Martín spearheaded a large collaboration project with Bolivia to make use of the abundant residue from the country’s production of quinoa, a staple food. In 2019, he took up a professorship at the Inland University of Applied Sciences in Norway, but continues to do research for Bio4Energy and Umeå University on investigating spent mushroom substrate as an input material for making products.


Carlos Martín

For more information

Circular Bio-based Europe Joint Undertaking

Bio4Energy Biopolymers and Biochemical Conversion

Related news

‘Getting Prepared to Have Right Material Base’: Chemistry in Biorefinery in New Report – Bio4Energy

Bio4Energy Researchers Meet to Usher in New Developments on Energy, Material Production – Bio4Energy

Quinoa Project Classifies New Building Block for Biorefinery – Bio4Energy

‘Getting Prepared to Have Right Material Base’: Chemistry in Biorefinery in New Report

As economies are moving closer to a substantial fossil fuel phase-out, the need increases for a total overview of what the bio-based sector can bring to the table to replace it.

Bio4Energy researcher Carlos Martín Medina, Biopolymers and Biochemical Conversion, has spearheaded one such initiative giving an overview of how far we have come in terms of knowing the chemistry of the processes in factories where biofuels, “green” chemicals or bio-based materials are made: Biorefineries.

Together with colleagues from Spain and Italy, he has drawn together the latest advice from a range of international scientists on the Chemistry in Biorefineries and what substantial issues remain, in a new report.

“We are all concerned about [the consequences of using] fossil fuels. We need a clear idea of the post-petroleum era. We are getting prepared to have the right material base”, Martín told Bio4Energy Communications in an interview.

The Cuban native is one of Bio4Energy’s truly international PIs, bridging a position between Umeå University, Sweden and the Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences, Norway.

“What we are contributing with here is a representative overview of recent updates of known issues in biorefineries. These are novel contributions by first line scientists”.

As always when it comes to making commodities—even such that people will want to consume in the future—ventures have to be economically viable, as well as socially and environmentally sustainable.

“It is important to know the chemistry of [every] single process to be able to optimise and achieve higher yields and purity, and to avoid side reactions. In a biorefinery the first goal is to separate the three main components of biomass in the best way possible, so that each can be directed to different end products”, Martín explained.

Such products could be ethanol made from cellulose or resins made from lignin, he said. Although different input biomass materials are in focus in different parts of the world, the lesson contained in the themed collection of articles just out, in many cases are the same.

Is there enough biomass?

Martin’s answer to the question as to whether there is enough biomass for biorefinery production to make a substantial contribution in the post-petroleum era is a resounding “Yes.

“There are many different sources of residual plant biomass: Crop residues, forest residues, wood processing residues.

“Wood should mainly go into building materials and furniture manufacturing. We don’t want to clear out forests, [but instead] take advantage of materials that are not exploited today”.

The research environment Bio4Energy makes methods and tools for conducting biorefinery—a refinery based on biomass residues from various sectors to produce renewable fuel, materials and chemicals.  

For more information

Chemistry in Biorefineries is a themed collection of articles, published in an Advances journal by the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Editorial contacts

Carlos Martín Medina, Alejandro Rodríguez and Fabio Montagnaro

A model of the Vertisà AB vertical gardening module. Photo by courtesy of Vertisà AB.

Inventions by Bio4Energy Researchers Highlighted by Royal Academy for Future Potential

Zeolite membranes for gas separation, vertical gardens and reuse of textiles to make composites. These are subjects of collaboration projects by Bio4Energy researchers who have made this year’s 100 List hosted by the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineer Sciences (KSLA).

To make the List, it takes a research project deemed to have “great potential to be useful”. This usefulness is thought of as potential for commercialisation of the product or concept studied, for development of either business or methods, or for providing thought leadership.

Another key criterion is for the project leader or researchers on the project to have expressed interest in collaborating with industry or related entities to further develop their invention.

Membrane technology for gas separation in use, tends to be bulky, energy intensive and cost a lot. Bio4Energy researchers Jonas Hedlund and Liang Yu are perfecting and developing ultra-thin zeolite membranes that take up less space and use less energy to perform the separation. These membranes would provide a large cost reduction if rolled out on a large scale, according to the scientists.

With Vertisà Ltd, Rosario García-Gil and team propose a module vertical garden that can be added onto the exterior of a house and mimics a natural ecosystem. Complete with a built-in watering system, which has been patented, it is not only designed to help with greenhouse gas capture in cities, but also serves to insulate and beautify the wall it is attached to. The module is both low-technology and low cost, according to the project leader.

A new process has been invented, which allows for reuse of scrapped textiles as a component in a new, strong type of composite material based on a mixture of discarded textiles and plastics. Kristiina Oksman and co-workers used a piece of process equipment called extruder, to mix the cut fabrics with plastics. The resulting composite is two fifths textiles and costs less than the standalone plastic polymer.


Jonas Hedlund and Liang Yu, Bio4Energy Catalysis and Separation, affiliation with Luleå University of Technology

Rosario García-Gil, Bio4Energy Forest-based Feedstocks, affiliation with the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

Kristiina Oksman, Bio4Energy Biopolymers and Biochemical Conversion, affiliation with Luleå University of Technology

Breakthrough Innovation: Hydrogels from Norwegian Kelp to Be Commercialised

Bio4Energy researchers are behind a breakthrough innovation that can be used to make bio-based and biodegradable hydrogels.

Hydrogels are key components in materials used to restore or maintain human health such as wound healing, tissue engineering, artificial organs or everyday contact lenses.

The ingenuity of hydrogels lies in a dichotomy: While they are able to absorb and hold water, they do not decompose as a result.

However, as much as hydrogels are an indispensable part of modern medicine, today only synthetic hydrogels of the kind desired are available on the market and they are resource-intensive to produce, according to an article at the website of Luleå University of Technology, where the Bio4Energy researchers work.

Applying nanotechnology to brown algae grown in Norwegian waters, scientists Kristiina Oksman and Linn Berglund were able to skip steps that are paramount to making hydrogels of the synthetic kind. This means that the new bio-based technology requires less energy at production and generates less waste.

Nano-scale processing of the starting material also means that good quality hydrogel can be ascertained, as the cellulose is separated into ultra-small fibres and desirable qualities of the alginate salts are retained.

Alginor ASA, a Norwegian firm, has bought the resulting patent and are constructing a processing plant for this type of brown kelp, Laminaria Hyperboream.

“Alginor ASA wants to use the method to make full use of the harvest of Laminaria Hyperborea, or brown kelp, a species that is common in Norwegian waters”, professor Oksman said.


Linn Berglund — Bio4Energy Biopolymers and Biochemical Conversion, affiliation with Luleå University of Technology

Kristiina Oksman – Bio4Energy Biopolymers and Biochemical Conversion, affiliation with Luleå University of Technology

Scientific article

No scientific literature has been disclosed.

Examples of Bio4Energy projects involving similar technologies can be found here: