Tag Archive for: Bio4Energy Industrial Network

Bio4Energy 2023: Full Steam Ahead in Education, Research, Forming Collaborations

With the effects of the pandemic largely behind in northern Europe and Scandinavia, 2023 was a year of full steam ahead for the research environment Bio4Energy. This applied to the production of scientific research results, as well as education and training. It was also a year in which new collaborations and partnerships were formed.

This is the message of the 2023 Bio4Energy Annual Report, issued this month. It also says that the seven research platforms, which deliver scientific methods and tools for developing advanced biofuels, “green” chemicals and bio-based materials; had more collaboration amongst themselves than before.

Nine so-called Strategic Projects were granted on this basis of cross platform and cross-organisation cooperation. Four of them have just been listed on the Bio4Energy website.

With the effects of the pandemic largely behind in Bio4Energy’s northern European region, 2023 was a year of full steam ahead for the research environment. This applied to the production of scientific research results, as well as education and training.

Both scientific researchers and communications actively developed external collaborations. Once again, Bio4Energy helped promote the annual Advanced Biofuels Conference, which had a focus on renewable transport fuel for the maritime and airline industries.

As part of the core curriculum of the Bio4Energy Graduate School on the Innovative Use of Biomass, the team behind it launched a new course on the history of biorefining in Nordic countries, which received good reviews by students and professors in its first round.

It has a focus on the Nordic countries; Sweden, Finland and Norway. This is not only because the Bio4Energy research environment is based here, but also because of their historic importance as a hub for forestry adapted to the geological and climatic conditions of the boreal belt. Examples from Canada are an important part, because of the development of its biorefinery sector that has unfolded in parallel and partly on the same latitudes.

News in the form of popular sciences attracted attention, notably in the areas of industry – academy collaboration to lay the foundation for “green” steel making, which is expected to contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from iron and steel making industries.

So did news articles on the commercialisation of bio-based hydrogels, which are slated for use in wound healing and advances in improving bio-based input materials for biorefinery production, notably wood or woody residues from trees.

A comprehensive round-up of the chemistry involved in biorefinery processes had many views, as did news on Bio4Energy’s new representative in Bio-based Industries Consortium (BIC), which latter props up the industrial Circular Bio-based Joint Undertaking (CBE JU). It is a partnership between BIC and the European Union.

For more information

Bio4Energy Annual Report 2023 — Download Materials

Strategic Research Projects — Bio4Energy Projects

Pioneering Work to Study ‘Forever’ Chemicals PFAS Targets Wastewater Treatment in Incineration Plants

Backgrounder. Over the last decade, environmental chemists aiming to map and close the loop on toxic chemicals in the handling and incineration of household waste, or in combustion facilities in the bio-based sector, have increasingly turned their attention to per- and polyfluoroalkyls, PFAS.

Since the 1950s, this very large group of manmade chemicals has been used in consumer products to repel water and oil. Experts are increasingly referring to them as “forever” chemicals, because of their extreme persistence in environment, and which may also spread over wide areas through contact with water.

Even though PFAS are used worldwide in detergents, cosmetics, non-stick coatings and dirt or water-repellent textiles, their fate and impact at the end of life are largely unknown.

Academia and industry in long-standing collaboration

Environmental chemists, led by Bio4Energy’s first programme manager Stellan Marklund, were leaders in the field of isolating and assessing dioxins formed as a result of operations of waste-to-energy plants.

Dioxins and dioxin-like substances, including PCBs, are persistent organic pollutants (POPs) regulated globally by the Stockholm Convention of the United Nations. POPs can travel long distances from the source of emission and bioaccumulate in food chains.

This long-standing collaboration with industry in northern Sweden, and notably with regional energy utility Umeå Energi continues with associate professor Stina Jansson of Umeå University. It draws on the knowledge obtained and infrastructure put in place to tackle the more recently seen risk of PFAS leaking to soils, air and water as a result of waste storage and incineration.

This long-standing collaboration with industry in northern Sweden, and notably with regional energy utility Umeå Energi continues with Marklund’s former student, associate professor Stina Jansson of Umeå University. It draws on the knowledge obtained and infrastructure put in place to tackle the more recently seen threat of PFAS leaking to soils, air and water as a result of waste storage and incineration.

“We do not know the fate of PFAS in waste incineration. It is a black box”, Jansson said.

Her team, however, has started tackling the problem from the ground up.

Samples taken throughout the regional combined heat and power plant at Dåva, collected by Sofie Björklund, Eva Weidemann and Alana Lansky, point to the presence of PFAS in all intra-plant waste or residual streams. In a recent scientific article, the team also shows that the common practice of supplementing household waste with digested sludge from industrial operations significantly increases the level PFAS in flue gases, ash or process water from waste incineration.

The secret may be in the water

“We know that there are considerable amounts of PFAS in waste water sludge… and have located accumulations at the water purification stage. We see froth and even foaming in the process water”, according to Jansson.

People who go out in nature may recall seeing this type of froth or foam in shallow lake waters or, in certain countries, at the exit of waste water pipes, which could be a sign of PFAS pollution.

Thanks to the encompassing work to identify, charaterise and capture dioxins in similar contexts, the scientific researchers are able to draw parallels and make educated guesses about which types of technology can be used to rein in the lion’s share of PFAS compounds that remain onsite at the end of the incineration process.

“We are working together with other researchers to understand [how and what triggers] the breakdown of these compounds”, Jansson said.

At the Umeå cluster, the researchers are focusing on hydrothermal carbonisation. Scientists at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration of the United States of America, are targeting a method that involves using plasma for the breakdown.

“We may go into collaboration with them”, Jansson added.

Other techniques being tested elsewhere include membrane technology and ozone treatment.

“Our method of testing the process water is unique… This process water can be leachate of landfills, for example. Perhaps this will be where we can stop the pollution”, Jansson said.

New for July 2024: Press article, Helios Innovations takes the fight against eternal chemicals • PFAS – GAMINGDEPUTY

Scientific article

Distribution of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs ) in a waste-to-energy plant: tracking PFASs in internal residual streams. In Environmental Science and Technology, ISSN 0013-936X, E-ISSN 1520-5851, Vol. 58, no 19, p. 8457-8463


Stina Jansson, Bio4Energy Environment and Nutrient Recycling

Related News

PhD Student Wins Prize for ‘Outstanding’ Work to Capture Micropollutants – Bio4Energy

Change of Leader at Bio4Energy Environment, Nutrient Recycling – Bio4Energy

Related Projects

Activated and non-activated biochars and hydrochars from forestry-related waste streams for removal of environmental contaminants from sediments – Bio4Energy

Sweden’s Bioeconomy Arena to Open by Early 2025: Bio4Energy Researchers Stopped by

Bio4Energy took its business to Örnsköldsvik, northeastern Sweden, last week for a glance at the large biorefinery development ventures underway.

About 50 researchers visited the Bioeconomy Arena—a large development park under construction—in the wake of the Swedish government’s pledge to invest in test beds. These are a means to realise the bioeconomy and meet goals to contain climate change.

“The start up of pilots [will take place] this autumn or early 2025”, said Karin Johnson, shepherding the Bio4Energy group at a study visit.

Johnson is CEO at Bio4Energy strategic partner Processum Biorefinery Cluster, institute partner to the companies at the Domsjoe Development Area. They include the full-scale biorefinery Domsjö Fabriker of Aditya Birla, Örnsköldsvik Energi, SEKAB, Liquid Wind, Norion and others.

The development park for biorefinery, Bioeconomy Arena on the northeast coast of Sweden, will have 130 – 150 test beds designed to test and evaluate bio-based processes in increasingly large steps up to pre-industrial level.

The Arena will have 130 – 150 test beds designed to test and evaluate bio-based processes in increasingly large steps up to pre-industrial level, according to David Blomberg Saitton, Processum.

Pulping, chemicals, carbon capture and storage, carbon capture and use, plus industrial biotechnology are the overarching focal areas, he said.

The facilities covering hundreds of square metre of purpose-made grounds, complete with access to media such as electricity, steam and water; will include a “customer” area designed for companies keen to test their process on the grounds, but without having to share patenting information with Processum staff technicians, Johnson revealed.

Companies will have access to rental space to test a container-based process, she explained.

In connection with the study visit, Bio4Energy hosted its biannual Researchers’ Meeting. Impressions of the event, below, are courtesy of our scientific and institute researchers, as well as their students. Without them, there would be no research environment Bio4Energy.

Photos are by Anna Strom, Bio4Energy Communications.

For more information

Bio4Energy Researchers’ Meeting

Processum Biorefinery Cluster

Domsjö Fabriker AB

Related News

RISE to Invest SEK350 Million in Its Biorefinery Test Bed Environments

Contact Biorefinery Arena

David Blomberg Saitton, Bio4Energy Biopolymers and Biochemical Conversion — Processum at RISE

September Start for Bio4Energy’s Training to Scale up Bio-based Innovations

Bio4Energy’s training on the scale up of bio-based innovations is starting again in September. The application is open as of today.

The backdrop is substantial new investments in test beds and development facilities in the region of northern Sweden where the research environment is based.

“We will go onsite visiting not only pilot [installations] of different types, but whole factories in our network of actors based along the coast at Örnsköldsvik, Piteå and Umeå.

“We will see this great variation and speak to the developers themselves”, said course coordinator Francesco Gentili.

“We will go onsite visiting not only pilot installations of different types, but whole factories in our network of actors based along the coast at Örnsköldsvik, Piteå and Umeå. We will see this great variation and speak to the developers themselves”.

He is not only an associate professor at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, but also the man behind facilities for microalgae research and development run in collaboration with regional energy utility Umeå Energi.

Biorefinery Pilot Research, as the course is called, is the flagship of the Bio4Energy Graduate School on the Innovative Use of Biomass.

Bio4Energy draws together the regions foremost universities and institutes dealing with the development of methods and tools for conducting biorefinery based on woody residues and industrial organic waste. As such, it is on a mission to provide education and training to help provide the sector with knowledge workers of tomorrow’s bioeconomy and advanced students with top-of-the-line education.

The course is offered as a mixture of intensive days of onsite visits—starting 2-4 September at Piteå—with time in between where students work to develop their own projects. They do this either by implementing an aspect of upscaling in their own PhD project or; if they are postdoctoral fellows established as researchers; they may create something new.

“We speak to and learn from capable fundamental researchers, all the way up to industrialists”.

“We speak to [and learn from] capable fundamental researchers, all the way up to industrialists”, Gentili told Bio4Energy Communications.

The group goes on study visits to well-known companies in the sector such as SunPine and the large pilot LTU Green Fuels at Piteå, as well as their institute partner in Bio4Energy, RISE Energy Technology Center.

Further south, at Örnsköldsvik, key contacts in the Bio4Energy Industrial Network will show them the new RISE Bioeconomy Arena, Domsjö Fabriker, SEKAB and RISE Processum. At Umeå, finally, Gentili will showcase the algae pilot and include a tour of Arevo, which has gone from being a Bio4Energy researcher upstart to a full-grown company offering a new kind of plant nutrition product that does not create toxic leakage, while being highly efficient.

“We stay, eat and study together and it creates the opportunity for networking”, Gentili said, adding a reflection on the bigger picture;

“It creates job opportunities. We train people to know the infrastructure and strengthen the collaboration in our region”.


Francesco Gentili — Course coordinator Biorefinery Pilot Research

Dimitris Athanassiadis — Coordinator for the Bio4Energy Graduate School

Bio4Energy Graduate School

Biorefinery Pilot Research, 5 ECTS

Course Brochure and Application

Related News

Bio4Energy Graduate School: Development of Biorefinery Innovations Up Next

New Coordinator for Graduate School: Course Starts in 2024

Spin-off Wins Prize for ‘Great Potential’ of Plant Nutrition Products with Minimal Footprint

RISE to Invest SEK350 Million in Its Biorefinery Test Bed Environments

Seeing Possibilities: Meet Bio4Energy’s Coordinator for Swedish funder BioInnovation

Bio4Energy’s new coordinator for BioInnovation, Swedish funder of bio-based innovations, is Ulrika Rova, professor at Luleå University of Technology.

Rova sees herself not only as the research environment’s representative with an overview of possibilities for applying for funds, but also as a facilitator and a bearer of information to potential collaboration partners representing other organisations in the bio-based sector.

“I need first to study the offer and future calls for projects, but then I can be a channel for information going both ways”, Rova told Bio4Energy Communications.

Structured as a member organisation, BioInnovation evaluates and funds a range of projects on behalf of the Swedish national funding agencies Vinnova, Formas and the Swedish Energy Agency. Bio4Energy is a founding member, or a “party”, and involved in its divisions on Materials, as well as Chemicals and Energy.

Structured as a member organisation, BioInnovation evaluates and funds a range of projects on behalf of the Swedish national funding agencies Vinnova, Formas and the Swedish Energy Agency. Bio4Energy is a founding member, or a “party”, and involved in its divisions on Materials, as well as Chemicals and Energy.

“Our vision is that Sweden will have transitioned to a circular economy by 2050. We are going to create optimal conditions for developing the Swedish bio-based sector and create sustainable solutions for a global market”, the Swedish version of BioInnovation’s website said (ed’s translation).

Two projects headed up by Bio4Energy research leaders stand out: Joint production of edible mushroom and advanced biofuel, as well as production of food-grade prebiotics from forest resources and sea squirts, a colonial tunicate.

The latter is a small sea-living invertebrate that has an outer protective cover; a tunic consisting of a cellulose-like substance; which is the target for developing prebiotics for human and animal consumption.

Rova led the prebiotics project. Given that Bio4Energy is a member since 2015, I want to know what might promote a more high-profile participation in BioInnovation-funded projects.

“The requirement of 50 per cent co-funding by proprietary users, that is an industrial partner, could be perceived as a challenge. As an [academic] researcher, you need to have a good contact network in industry”, Rova said.

“I will be participating the annual and biannual meetings and provide an overview of possibilities going both ways”, she said.

Professor Ulrika Rova is a veteran member of Bio4Energy. She served as deputy director of the research environment during its second five-year mandate, ending in 2019. Instrumental in developing education and training, she was the first head of the Bio4Energy Graduate School. She is a senior member of one of Bio4Energy’s research platforms, Biopolymers and Biochemical Conversion. Her home organisation is Luleå University of Technology where she is part of a Paul Christakopoulos' research group specialising in biochemical process technology. In later years, the group has been focusing on carbon dioxide capture and reuse, as well as bioprocesses for upcycling of plastics and managing EU projects.


Ulrika Rova, Bio4Energy Coordinator for BioInnovation — Affiliation with Luleå University of Technology

For more information


Bio4Energy Biopolymers and Biochemical Conversion Technologies

Related News (In Swedish)

Det stora blå – med enorm potential i framtidens hållbara utveckling – BioInnovation

Inhemsk odling av delikata matsvampar i sikte – och biodrivmedel på köpet – BioInnovation

Svensk innovation kan ge billigare matsvampar – BioInnovation

Fördelen med att odla läckra svampar på björkved – BioInnovation

Senior lecturer and instrumentation expert Fredrik Forsberg, at Luleå University of Technology Geolab in 2022. Photo by courtesy of Fredrik Forsberg.

Bio4Energy Partner LTU Part of ‘Largest Investment in Material Science in Sweden’

A Swedish funder of research in the bio-based sector has announced the largest investment ever in the northern European country in terms of sustainable material science, and notably in infrastructure to advance it.

Bio4Energy partner Luleå University of Technology (LTU) is one of seven research universities to benefit, having won a hefty SEK52 million (€4.6 million) grant to fund instrumentation that will allow researchers quickly to measure various material reactions to flow, pressure or load and to variations in climate.

“The equipment will be unique in Sweden. We are right here in northern Sweden where the large industrial investments towards the green transition are located”, said Fredrik Forsberg, Bio4Energy expert at fluid and experimental mechanics at LTU.

“We are going to build a strong node for material science research; focusing on minerals, metals and hydrogen; all of which are essential raw materials in this transition”, Forsberg added.

“We are going to build a strong node for material science research; focusing on minerals, metals and hydrogen; all of which are essential raw materials in this transition”.

The vision of the Wallenberg Initiative Materials Science for Sustainability (WISE), where the seven universities are members, is to “enable sustainable technologies with positive impact on our society by understanding, creating and controlling complex materials”, according to its homepage.

It is the single largest investment in material research in Sweden—the share going to LTU is one tenth of the total—and the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation is behind it.

In the case of LTU, the grant monies will be invested both in infrastructure at the university and at the southern Sweden-based synchrotron Max IV Laboratory; where beamlines for very advanced X-ray-based research is available for scientists from all over the world.

“We expect to start using the new equipment a year from now. It will be available to all WISE researchers and for all in joint projects regarding sustainability issues”, Forsberg said.

From the presentation late 2019 of its Green Deal, the European Union started referring to the “green transition” as being a bridge in time to meeting goals in terms of cutting greenhouse gas emissions and arresting environmental degradation.

Advanced Characterisation Techniques at the Luleå Material Imaging and Analysis Facility (WISE ACT @LUMIA) at Luleå University of Technology include high-resolution 3D X-ray imaging (dynamic/high-energy/spectral XCT) and precision milling (laser ablation FIB) coupled with scanning electron microscopy (SEM). The platform offers excellent capabilities for analysis related to the new technologies emerging in northern Sweden, the hotspot for the green transition. Key research areas, in close collaboration with leading industry, include fossil-free steel, carbon dioxide and hydrogen storage, sustainable batteries, extraction of critical raw materials, and additive manufacturing. 
From WISE Technology Platforms, wise-materials.org


Fredrik Forsberg — Affiliation with Luleå University of Technology

New as of 5 February 2024: Scientific article

Advanced materials provide solutions towards a sustainable world, Nature Materials 17, 1052–1053.

For more information

Wallenberg Initiative Materials Science for Sustainability (WISE)

WISE at Luleå University of Technology (LTU)

Luleå Material Imaging and Analysis Facility

Bio4Energy Thermochemical Conversion

Season’s Greetings from Bio4Energy

As the season draws to a close, Bio4Energy wants to wish its friends and followers a

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

We wish our researchers and partners to have break over Christmas, to come back strong to work in the New Year.

Education in focus in 2024

For our part, 2024 will have a focus on education with two of the three generic courses of the Bio4Energy Graduate School launching.

Biorefinery Pilot Research, our flagship training where students are introduced to the innovation processes of bio-based applications and technologies by paying visits to industry—both a biorefinery and technology developers—is set to kick off late August.

Systems’ Perspectives of Biomass Resources, gives students the tools with which to place their technology research projects in a regional and global context of biorefinery and bioenergy development, is planned to start sometime in autumn 2024.

Wood Biology and Biotechnology is an extra special five-day intensive training that is designed to give an edge to students of biorefinery interested in the modification of trees and plants for use as input material in bio-based processes. The knowledge and experienced shared here are not available in textbooks and come from leading scientists, several of whom member of our research platform Bio4Energy Forest-based Feedstocks.

Nordic Wood Biorefinery conference to northern Sweden

As is custom, Bio4Enegy will host Researchers’ Meetings for further integration of the research performed on its seven research platforms. The next one is planned for June.

For the first time, the conference Nordic Wood Biorefinery is set to be held Örnsköldsvik, mid-October. Bio4Energy is part of the organisation.

Thank you for 2023! We look forward to continuing the work together with you in 2024.

Bio4Energy Graduate School: Development of Biorefinery Innovations Up Next

Bio4Energy’s core curriculum is contained in the courses of its Graduate School. The flagship training Biorefinery Pilot Research gives PhD students and postdoctoral fellows access to the unique park of pilot and demonstration facilities that line the coast of northeastern Sweden, when it comes to the production of advanced biofuels, “green” chemicals and bio-based materials.

Students construct and conduct their own projects to experience the innovation process hands on. First-hand access to professionals in industry and their peers allow for networking. Industry professionals are welcome to apply and to attend the course, to top up their knowledge with the latest in biorefinery development based on residues of woody biomass or organic waste.

A new edition of Biorefinery Pilot Research is scheduled for autumn 2024: End of August to October. First come, first serve!

Moreover, a much awaited new edition of Systems’ Perspectives on Biomass Resources will launch in autumn 2024. Students learn the basics of system analysis, by applying its principles on their own research projects. They also receive an overview of energy and sustainability issues on the global level, framed in the context of biorefinery development.

New course leaders as of November 2023 are Joakim Lundgren, Elisabeth Wetterlund and Andrea Toffolo; all three affiliated with Bio4Energy core partner Luleå University of Technology.

Finally, the new course History of Biorefining in Nordic Countries‘ paints the background of biorefinery development, as well as current trends and progress. Study visits and sessions on sustainability challenges alert students to the fact that we need to do better tomorrow to achieve circularity; efficient and effective production systems with low or no pollution escaping out into the environment.

Carmen Cristescu coordinates History of Biorefining, which just concluded in November this year, with the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences at Umeå, as the hub for lectures and group assignments.

So say our students

PhD students Edouardo Arango-Durango and Mahsa Mehrara traveled from Luleå and the university there to attend the first-ever edition of the course.

“It has been amazing. I am from Colombia where forestry is different. Here [in Sweden] innovation is more advanced. It was an opportunity for me to learn”, Arango-Durango, Thermochemical Conversion, told Bio4Energy Communications at the end of lectures 27 October.

Standing beside him, Mehrara is part of Systems Analysis and Bioeconomy and, in her work, performs simulations to lay at the base of various research investigations.

“I joined because I wanted to know more about the background of my research. It is nice to know [what happens with] the feedstock in the real world”, she said.

“I liked the course, but it could be made more challenging”, Mehrara added.

For more information

Bio4Energy Graduate School

Advanced Biofuels Conference 2023: Bio4Energy in Partnership

Sweden is host to an annual event designed to take the pulse on the latest developments in advanced biofuels in Europe, with an outlook to the rest of the Western world. This year the focus is on maritime and air transport.

The Advanced Biofuels Conference 2023 kicks off 20 September at Gothenburg, with study visits to auto maker Volvo and fuel supplier Preem. A line up of speakers from fuel producers and international organisations follow in their tracks during the two days of conference sessions.

Among those, Bio4Energy alumnus Monica Normark will present the company KBR’s PureSAFSM solution for production of renewable jet fuel. Conference moderator is Johanna Mossberg, RISE Research Institutes of Sweden and member of the Bio4Energy Advisory Board.

“Climate change mitigation is a challenge, but for the transportation sector biofuels have re-emerged as a viable option for addressing both short-term fuel shortages and medium-term greenhouse gas reduction efforts. Biofuels are back on the road again”, said Tomas Ekbom, ABC conference director.

Traditionally, Bio4Energy has been a partner to ABC, with its organisers Svebio, Bioenergi magazine and Bioenergy International. This year is no exception.

Conference webiste, with Registration on the home page

Programme sessions


Study visits

Logistics of Biomass Transport Subject of New European Training

Biomass as an input material for biorefinery needs to be handled and stored in a way that is efficient and designed to preserve the raw material, for the nascent bioeconomy to become viable on its own, according to a leading member of the Bio4Energy Industrial Network.
On behalf of his organisation BioFuel Region, based in northern Sweden, Magnus Matisons teamed up with experts in six European regions to develop a training on the subject for professionals of the bioeconomy.
It has three legs, which three corresponding training sessions. 

  • Introduction to challenges of biomass logistics, 7 September, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.
  • End-users’ challenges in the local value chain, 26 September, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.
  • Sustainability and policy drivers for a regional bioeconomy, 19 October 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.

“For the bioeconomy to expand, more biomass will have to be transported to processing. With the project Scale-up, six regions in the European Union have come together to develop the way in which we use regional biomass resources”, said Matisons, who leads the Nordic part;
“We have been looking at this issue for 20 years [and come to the conclusion that] this type of training will benefit all those whose activities concern biomass”, he told Bio4Energy Communications over the phone.
While the Nordic part of the project starts from input materials such as saw dust, bark and other forestry residue, other European regions have chosen to target spent olive kernels, hemp or residue from breweries or from apple juice making.
“It will be an experiment in using technology, as well. Each region will be able to follow the sessions in their main language”, Matisons mused.
The sessions will be offered via the Microsoft Teams online conferencing system. There is no additional software required for those who sign up as participants.

Register now (please click the link)

For more information

Efficient regional biomass logistics and infrastructure

Introduction to challenges of biomass logistics: Agenda

Bio4Energy Contacts

Barbro Kalla — BioFuel Region & Bio4Energy Industrial Network

Dimitris Athanassiadis — Bio4Energy Graduate School Coordinator