Tag Archive for: Bio4Energy Industrial Network

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.

Contact

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

For more information

BioInnovation

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

Contact

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 at 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 of 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 Feedstock.

Nordic Wood Biorefinery conference to northern Sweden

As is custom, Bio4Enegy will host Researchers’ Meetings for further integration of the research performed on our 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 History of Biorefining in Nordic Countries‘ training 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

Programme

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

New Training: History of Biorefining in Nordic Countries

Bio4Energy is launching a new course for PhD and postdoctoral researchers, which paints the background of, and serves as a framework for, the development of biorefineries based on woody biomass.

It has a focus on the Nordic countries; notably 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.

These are conditions that have allowed the Nordics to become an exporter of timber and wood products, as well as evolve to lay foundations for today’s biorefineries: Plants that run a range of processes for the refining woody biomass or residual streams from pulp and paper industry.

In fact, even though the term ‘biorefinery’ may be recent, some experts on the topic would insist that biorefineries have existed for thousands of years.

“The need for PhDs to know the background and development of the forestry industry has increased. Here we provide the historical background. Biorefinery is a new concept, but conversion into useful energy has existed since ancient years”, according to Dimitris Athanassiadis, Bio4Energy Graduate School Coordinator.

The format will be three weeks of fulltime study, of which one week on location at Umeå, Sweden. This second week (6-10 November) will include study visits to relevant industrial operators such as the biorefinery at Örnsköldsvik, Sweden (Domsjö Fabriker AB of Aditya Birla), harvesting operations and a wood yard.

Just as the other two generic courses of the Graduate School, it will be offered biannually.

“It is very important to understand how we reached were we are now. [We will be looking at] technological developments, historical aspects… and legislation. Mistakes of the past should not be repeated”.

Athanassiadis is a researcher at Bio4Energy partner Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and is working on the launch along with his team member Carmen Cristescu, researcher.

“We look forward to meeting the student and are very happy… to organise and plan this course to make it interesting”, he said.

For more information

Historical, technological and societal background to forestry and forest-based biorefining in Nordic countries — Bio4Energy Graduate School

Contacts

Dimitris Athanassiadis — Bio4Energy Graduate School Coordinator

Carmen Cristescu — Course Leader for Historical, Technological and Societal Background

Related News

New Coordinator for Graduate School: Course Starts in 2024

Starting Soon: Training on Developing Biofuels, Chemicals, Materials

Bio4Energy is Delivering Methods, Tools to Industry as Promised

Regional collaboration and research in the areas of thermochemical conversion of biomass and feedstock pre-processing, respectively, were on the menu as Bio4Energy scientists and advanced students met at Skellefteå, Sweden this month.

The event showed, most notably, that a good decade after its start, the Bio4Energy research environment is indeed doing what it set out to in 2010: Delivering methods and tools in the areas of bio-based materials, “green” chemicals and advanced biofuels.

Thermochemical Conversion, one of two process platforms in Bio4Energy, is cooperating with leading actors in industry; to provide the foundations for replacing fossil fuels with biocarbon in steel-making operations.

Another branch of the TC platform is developing “green” carbon black from forest industrial residue; the early news of which spurred interest from European and Russian industry, eager to follow developments.

As we reported in March, the Feedstock Pre-processing platform not only keeps delivering dried or fractionated biomass to customers in industry, but also eyes a shift in focus to examine the ways in which critical raw materials can be supplied to the region in a safe and sustainable manner.

Finally, the meeting received a run down on current European Union policy developments affecting the forest industrial sector.

As a service to our followers, we will link below as many of the research presentations given as we are allowed to. Please check back with this page, if they have not yet been posted. Press or click a title, to access its link.

Research Presentations

Biochar characterisation, using state-of-the-art techniques — Anna Strandberg, Bio4Energy Feedstock Pre-processing

Multi-blade shaft milling for preserving the native structure of milled products — Atanu Kumar Das, Bio4Energy Feedstock Pre-processing

Related News

Torgny Näsholm and Rikard Höög of Arevo accept a prize for Best University Spin-off 2023. Photo used with permission.

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

A university spin-off headed up by Bio4Energy researchers and partners have won a prize for the “great potential” of their innovative technology that helps new tree or agricultural plants take root, while drastically reducing negative impacts such as nutrient runoff to ground water, acidification and greenhouse gas emissions, compared with conventional fertilizers.

Arevo of Sweden markets products based on the amino acid arginine, which either is used for cultivating plants in pots or cassettes (liquid product) or stimulate growth of new roots to enhance establishment when planted in the field (granular product).

This new way of doing plant nutrition is different from the established route of planting and adding fertilizer based on ammonia and nitrate, which has well-known environmental and ecological impacts.

“This innovation tackles global challenges… and provides a solution that is revolutionary but simple”, according the jury of Umeågalan, an annual celebration of “collaboration across borders” in northern Sweden, hosted by the Municipality of Umeå.

“By combining strong research and substantial competence with a great vision for the future, the winner has great potential to continue to develop current and new markets”, the prize motivation said.

The company and its product range are built on research findings by professor Torgny Näsholm of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and colleagues, who set in motion a paradigm shift in plant science in the late 1990s.

In an article in the prestigious scientific journal Nature, they showed that seeds and seedlings take up amino acids directly, which produces a growth spurt including the establishment of solid roots and diminishes the amount of stress on plants and their ecosystem.

In the years after the initial discovery, Näsholm and colleagues showed that arginine is a preferred nitrogen source for plants such as conifer seedlings. In fact, together with partners they went on to file patents on their innovation, targeting arginine for their technology. The rest is history.

“The great advantage is efficiency and better use of resources”, Näsholm said of the new technology.

“When in plant cultivation, you always need a good start. This is a way to render effective the way in which plants use their resources for growth”, he added.

Large forestry companies, forest owners and their regional trade union are using Arevo’s products. Holmen was first out.

Näsholm sees expansion as being on the cards; with possible new markets to conquer in Finland and the Baltics, as well as new segments in Sweden such as greenhouse owners and individuals interested in growing their own produce.

Whatever the case, he welcomes the prize.

“It is nice to be noticed”.

For more information, go to: Arevo, Umeågalan, Bio4Energy Environment and Nutrient Recycling, Bio4Energy at SLU

Related projects: Environmentally friendly L-arginine separation by use of bio mimicry – Bio4Energy

Three-year Project Could Set Steelmaker Well on Way to Hydrogen-based Operations

Industry and academia are teaming up to enable a phase out of fossil fuels in Sweden-based steelmaking industry. Steelmaker SSAB will be collaborating with Luleå University of Technology (LTU) and the metal industry’s research institute Swerim.

After many years of preparatory work, and a multitude of projects, nearly SEK50 million (€4.1 million) will be invested over three years by the European Union and the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth, according to a press release from LTU. The feasibility of using biogenic carbon sources in hydrogen production is already being demonstrated in studies by Bio4Energy scientists and others.

However, the present project could give the industry a decisive push in laying bare an efficient and economically viable path ahead for transitioning from fossil coal to “green” hydrogen, using biocarbon.

“We [want to arrive at] the best way possible to implement biomass into the flow of steelmaking… We have to make an optimal overall process: An optimised value chain as a whole”, said Kentaro Umeki, professor at LTU Energy Technology.

Four Bio4Energy research leaders are involved. Umeki and Fredrik Granberg are experts at thermochemical conversion of biomass, while Joakim Lundgren and Andrea Toffolo will be collaborating with others to assess biomass availability and possibly also where best to localise facilities geographically for its pre-treatment.

“The industry wants to scale up. This is a push from them. They have several years to build a full-scale plant. They are discussing with engineers” about the way in which to go about it, Umeki said.

The overall project is called FINAST, which is the Swedish acronym for Research and Innovation in Norrbotten for Advanced Green Steel Production and Manufacture. It is headed up by professor Jens Hardell at LTU Machine Elements.

“I think that the FINAST project is a fantastic example of Bio4Energy and CH2ESS joining forces”, said professor Lundgren; with reference to LTU’s Centre for Hydrogen Energy Systems Sweden. It has the aim to integrate production, storage and transport of hydrogen in an optimal way and includes process integration in relation to the electrical power system. 

Contacts

Kentaro Umeki, Bio4Energy Thermochemical Conversion, affiliation with Luleå University of Technology

Joakim Lundgren, Bio4Energy Systems Analysis and Bioeconomy, affiliation with Luleå University of Technology