Tag Archive for: Umeå University

In his PhD thesis, researcher Martin Plöhn lays out a scheme for wastewater treatment using microalgae. Photos by Anna Strom and Umea University photographers.

Microalgae that Thrive in Cold Climate Clean Wastewater, Give Biomass for Renewable Plastics

A research report—covering five years of investigations—shows that microalgae grown in cold and dark conditions may not only be made to thrive on their own, but also remove the heavy metal content of industrial wastewater that conventional treatment plants do not filter out.

The high performing algal strain selected also turned out to produce ample carbohydrate biomass suitable for making bio-based plastics.

The academic research team behind the findings is based in northern Sweden; where winters are long, cold and dark. However, the cluster—including the research environment Bio4Energy and the MicroBioRefine project—have some of Scandinavia’s leading scientists in the field of developing biomass from blue-green algae as a renewable input material for making products.

The research report, by recent PhD graduate Martin Plöhn, will be released by Bio4Energy’s lead partner Umeå University as soon as details of its major findings have been cleared for publication in the chief biotechnology journal of a well-known publisher.

The researchers have identified a common and locally available strain, Chlorella vulgaris, as a top performer among microalgae when it comes to cleaning wastewater of cadmium, copper and lead. There was no additional source of energy or lighting added.

In a nutshell, the researchers have identified a common and locally available strain, Chlorella vulgaris, as a top performer among microalgae when it comes to cleaning wastewater of cadmium, copper and lead. The process has been tested in a research laboratory. There was no additional source of energy or lighting added to indoor room temperatures, daytime indoor (fluorescent) lighting and natural daylight.

Cleaning with microalgae after conventional wastewater treatment, to meet legal standards

Turned into a fully-fledged technology, the scheme would allow industries whose activities leave substantial amounts of wastewater in their wake, to shave the last one-to-two micrograms of heavy metals off wastewater already treated in a conventional treatment plant. The scheme comes with optional provisions for reuse in industry of the heavy metals thus recycled.

“Our microalgae can be used to treat wastewater to remove pollutants and produce freshwater…. We do not want to replace the conventional treatment system, but come in at the end and take away the heavy metal content that is still higher than the law”, doctor Plöhn told Bio4Energy Communications.

“Our microalgae can be used to remove pollutants and treat wastewater to produce freshwater… We do not want to replace the conventional treatment system, but come in at the end and take away the heavy metal content that is still higher than the law”.

In the second part of the microalgae project, Chlorella vulgaris again outperformed other strains tested when it came to producing polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB), a type of plastic, via bacterial breakdown of the biomass. The process has been tested in up to 25 litres of wastewater at a time, in a research laboratory.

Checking for unwanted emissions and scaling up

After successful proof of concept trials, the researchers have received expressions of interest for testing the concept on a larger scale from Bio4Energy partners at the RISE Research Institutes of Sweden. Plöhn and colleagues now are looking for industrial partners.

“We are looking for people who could be interested in the forest industry, with the message that we can add value… to existing processes”, he said.

The researchers collaborate with colleagues at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences to perform life-cycle assessment studies; to double check that their concept is sustainable in terms of minimising greenhouse gas emissions. Technically, the algae consume carbon dioxide down to net zero, but the researchers want to make sure that the system is water tight.

Dissertation in hand, Plöhn is not about to finish working on the project anytime soon. The microalgae also produce lipids and protein. Moreover there is the bio fertilizer route that remains to be explored.

“I see opportunities to explore this concept beyond carbohydrates. There will always be wastewater that needs to be treated. We need to use what we have right now”, he said.

Since late March Plöhn is a staff scientist at Umeå University and interested industry representatives are welcome to contact him and the research team there for at least another nine months.

PhD Dissertation

Revealing the potential of Nordic microalgae — Turning waste streams into resources

Bio4Energy Contact

Doctor Martin Plöhn — Affiliation with Umeå University

PhD Supervisor, Professor Christiane Funk — Affiliation with Umeå University

Related Projects

For more information

MicroBioRefine project

Bio4Energy Biopolymers and Biochemical Conversion

Training on Wood Biology, Biotechnology Fills Gap for Advanced Students of Biorefinery

Mini FEATURE. Northern Sweden, last week was home to advanced students affiliated with universities in Finland, Czech Republic, Belgium and Sweden—spending an intensive week at the city of Umeå—to learn about the frontline of science of wood biology and biotechnology.

Hosted by a leading wood biologists, Ewa Mellerowicz of the Umeå Plant Science Centre and Bio4Energy, this ad-hoc training is offered for the second time to equip advanced students interested in wood biology, tree breeding and biorefinery development with an edge.

“This course fills a gap and provides an overview of biological processes, explaining how they lead to developing different kinds of wood, and how they affect wood traits of economic importance”, the online course description says:

“Lectures and seminars are given by world experts in the field”. 

“This course fills a gap and provides an overview of biological processes, explaining how they lead to developing different kinds of wood, and how they affect wood traits of economic importance. Lectures and seminars are given by world experts in the field”.

When I stop by, the students are in full swing presenting posters to each other, a common feature both in advanced education and at scientific conferences.

“It is going great”, Hannele Tuominen, professor at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) and platform leader in Bio4Energy, greets me.

“We have 20 students and here they learn to attack the issues we are discussing from every angle. We have a line up experts here to teach them [on location]. This is our strength”, Tuominen says.

“Most students have a molecular biology or wood chemistry background”, Mellerowicz fills in. She also has an affiliation with the Umeå branch of SLU. She agrees with a smile that it is great but exhausting;

“The students are here all week with a full programme in the daytime and then social activities in the evening”.

Most of them are much too busy liaising with each other to talk to me, but Bio4Energy student Anna Renström of Umeå University, is here just for the evening poster session.

“We have a new publication on wood formation in hybrid aspen that lets us know more about the lignin formation. Now we need to apply [the concept] to other species such as spruce and we need to conduct field trials to understand whether it really works”, she says expertly.

Renström is being supervised by Tuominen and others who are part of the teaching line up and I think to myself that it shows.


Ewa Mellerowicz, Umeå Plant Science Centre — Affiliation with the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

For more information

Wood Biology and Biotechnology, 5 ECTS

Bio4Energy Forest-based Feedstocks

Umeå Plant Science Centre

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

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

Biomass Feedstock, PhD Education, Synchrotron Research in Focus at Bio4Energy Event

The recent Bio4Energy Researchers’ Meeting, drawing together sixty of its researchers to meet at Umea in northern Sweden, is real-life example of the deliveries that Bio4Energy took on making as a Strategic Research Environment, appointed by the Swedish government.

Biomass input materials for making renewable fuels, chemicals and materials

The members of the Bio4Energy Forest-based Feedstocks platform are designing trees that are better suited to resist challenging climatic conditions and to grow faster. Tree genes are studied in depth for the purpose of knowing how to enable an easy separation of the polymers in the wood matrix, for the production of advanced biofuels, “green” chemicals and bio-based materials. Four group leaders presented their latest research on wood engineering and characterisation, as well as resilience in times of climate change.

Education and training for advanced students: Tomorrow’s knowledge workers of the bioeconomy

Bio4Enegy’s core curriculum is contained in the courses of its Graduate School. Biorefinery Pilot Research gives students access to the unique park of pilot and demonstration facilities that line the coast of northeastern Sweden. 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.

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.

Course coordinator Francesco Gentili flagged that Biorefinery Pilot Research will be given in connection with the Nordic Wood Biorefinery Conference at Örnsköldsvik in autumn 2024, while Carmen Cristescu outlined the outcomes of the first ever edition of History of Biorefining, which just concluded in November this year.

Shining bright like a Bio4Energy student

Eleven of them painted the gist of their bio-based projects in minutes-long talks and fleshed them out later on research project posters, which were the focus of discussion during mingling time. Three winners of Best Poster Presentation were selected by a jury composed of more senior Bio4Energy colleagues.

Nitrogen regulated wood formation, Anna Renström — Forest-based Feedstocks

Biopolymers from residues: A Comparative characterisation of Halomonas boliviensis PHB, Diego Miranda — Biopolymers and Biochemical Conversion

What Makes a Tree a Tree?, Edouardo Soldado — Forest-based Feedstocks

Conference presentations

Forest feedstocks in the context of climate change, Sonali Ranade — Forest-based Feedstocks

Engineering of forest feedstocks for bioeconomy, Ewa Mellerowicz — Forest-based Feedstocks

Dark matter of the spruce genome, Peter Kindgren — Forest-based Feedstocks

Developments in forest feedstock characterisation, Gerhard Scheepers — Forest-based Feedstocks

Bio4Energy Graduate School: Biorefinery Pilot Research, Francesco Gentili — Enviroment and Nutrient Recycling

National infrastructure and synchrotron-related research, Nils Skoglund — Enviroment and Nutrient Recycling

Treesearch and Formax, Mikael Thyrel — Feedstock Pre-processing

Meeting programme

‘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.

“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”, Martín said.

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

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

Pierre Oesterle, PhD student, has been awarded a prize for his research to remove micropollutants from wastewater. Photo by courtesy of Pierre Oesterle.

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

A Bio4Energy PhD student at Umeå University (UmU) has won a prize for his work on waste management, bio-based materials and recycling, by a Sweden-based institute that represents his home country, France.

In his research, Pierre Oesterle investigates ways to re-use by products from forestry industry; and the ways in which these can made to remove micropollutants from wastewater.

In doing so, Oesterle is one of the forbearers in the field of bio-based chemicals and materials, who aim to tackle the rapidly expanding problem of micropollutants that leak into the environment as a result of pharmaceutical drug use.

For the most part, this kind of pollution is not being picked up and filtered out by current wastewater treatment plants.

Using sorbents for treating wastewater is not new in itself, but the ones on the market are based on activated charcoal. In a context of aiming to contain climate change, such materials are not deemed environmentally friendly.

A sorbent–whether based on petrochemicals or biomass–is a material that acts as a molecular sieve, which attracts micropollutants and holds them to it, in a layer of thin film.

“My research tries to design bio-based activated biochars from waste of mining and forestry industry to replace those activated carbons in wastewater treatment plants”, Oesterle writes in an e-mail to Bio4Energy Communications and; “to regenerate or recycle these spent sorbents using hydrothermal deconstruction.

“The idea behind this technology is to use a low temperature, but a high pressure; to degrade the contaminants adsorbed on the surface of the activated biochar and to check the regeneration efficiencies of the material afterwards”.

Circular economy

The French Institutes of Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Norway and Sweden in their Nordic Award 2023 are targeting “outstanding achievements” to pave the way for a circular economy, by young French nationals.

“This award aims to promote cultural and scientific cooperation between France and the Nordic countries and to reward the outstanding achievements of young researchers”, according to the call for applications.

Oesterle will receive his prize from the hand of the French Ambassador to Sweden, 20 June. It comes with a paid-for trip to meet likeminded colleagues in the French region of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, so that more cross-border and circularity friendly research may be spawned.

This edition of the FINA prize aims to help achieve three of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): Sustainable consumption and production, climate change abatement and zero hunger.

“Few removal [or] degradation processes are currently used, such as ozonation or activated carbon. The drawback of using activated carbon is the unsustainability of the technique; as when the adsorbent is spent, most of the activated carbons end up incinerated or in landfill; inducing potential secondary pollution. Moreover, most activated carbons are based on non-renewable resources (coal), which do not meet the SDGs”, Oesterle wrote.

Event: Webinar via Zoom, in which the FINA finalists present their research, hosted by the French Institute of Sweden. Thursday June 8, from 1:30 p.m. All welcome to attend.

Research platform: Bio4Energy Environment and Nutrient Recycling

About Pierre Oesterle: Personal page and list of publications, Umeå University

Circular economy is a system of production, exchange and sharing that allows for social progress, preservation of natural capital and economic development, as defined by the Brundtland Commission of the United Nations.

Field Trials Confirm: Aspen Trees May be Modified for Easier Access for Biorefinery Production

Field trials of transgenic aspen trees have confirmed that genetic modification is indeed a possible avenue for rendering wood less resistant to breakdown into components suitable for making biofuel, “green” chemicals or bio-based materials.

Research just out shows not only how to modify tree plants for superior yield of desired sugar-based content, but also offers industry or investors proof-of-concept results from pilot-scale trials performed for the most successful combinations or “constructs” in science speak.

Most innovations require Proof of Concept to survive past the early stages of product development. It is a formalised way of providing evidence that demonstrates that a design concept or business proposal is feasible.

For the last decade, Bio4Energy has shepherded field trials of hardwood species such as aspen, under the leadership of professor Ewa Mellerowicz, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.

Collaboration partners include programme manager Leif Jönsson’s research team at Umeå University, as well as Bio4Energy research leaders at RISE Research Institutes of Sweden, the Wallenberg Wood Science Centre and others.

The results are expected to bring considerable benefit to the scientific community, given that no less than 32 so-called lines of genetically modified aspen trees previously evaluated only in greenhouse trials, have been grown and studied for five years in field plantations in Sweden.

“Whereas there are many examples of genetically modified trees that are improved in the greenhouse experiments, the trees with improved properties in the field are exceptional”, Mellerowicz told Bio4Energy Communications.

The fact that the field trials used material pre-selected from extensive greenhouse experiments, testing very large numbers of constructs, let the scientists bring about optimal results in the field. This way, the trees grew faster (produced more wood) and were more ready to release sugar-rich polymers, which are desired input materials for making biorefinery products.

“By [implementing a] systematic long-term and multi-level testing strategy, we were able to identify certain unknown function genes that improve field productivity and saccharification yield”, according to Mellerowicz.

Moreover the best transgenic lines were processed in a pilot-scale reactor, mimicking industrial conditions, to provide proof of concept for the strategy.

“The identified genes will be of particular interest to modify, using non-transgenic approaches to produce feedstocks that are GMO free, but have improved performance in the field and in the biorefinery”, she said.

This means that more research is needed before the findings can be demonstrated as a new technology, but the advantage created is that genes have been identified that could be targets for it.


Ewa Mellerowicz, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences — Bio4Energy Forest-based Feedstocks, affiliation with the Umeå Plant Science Centre

Scientific article

The article Field testing of transgenic aspen from large greenhouse screening identifies unexpected winners, is published in the Plant Biotechnology Journal January 2023.

The authors are acknowledged as follows: Donev EN, Derba-Maceluch M, Yassin Z, Gandla ML, Sivan P, Heinonen SE, Kumar V, Scheepers G, Vilaplana F, Johansson U, Hertzberg M, Sundberg B, Winestrand S, Hörnberg A, Alriksson B, Jönsson LJ and Mellerowicz EJ.

Algae production at Dåva, Umeå, Sweden. Photo by courtesy of Francesco Gentili.

New Projects Supported by Bio4Energy Strategic Funds

Twenty per cent of all funding to Bio4Energy is set aside as Strategic Funds used to create synergies, explore and address new and important avenues of research. In 2023, several such strategic projects will be launched, following a call for funding during the autumn. The first two projects started on 1 January 2023, with additional projects coming up later.

The project Circular and sustainable production of bioplastics with the help of photosynthetic microorganisms – Proof of concept”, aims to investigate the feasibility of feeding carbohydrates produced by photosynthetic microalgae to bacteria producing polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) at pilot scale in northern Sweden. PHB is a promising material for producing biodegradable plastics, and in this proof-of-concept project the PHB production will be studied and optimised, in order to enable a successful implementation at industrial scale. Francesco Gentili at SLU heads the project, which is a collaboration between researchers at SLU, UmU, and RISE Processum.

The second project, “Trade-off between wood quantity and quality in response to nitrogen fertilization – Is there a breaking point for beneficial nitrogen level in boreal forests?”, will investigate the relationship between volume growth and wood quality in response to nitrogen fertilization in both Norway spruce and aspen. The goal is to identify optimal fertilization regimes that balance between volume growth and wood quality of forest feedstocks in different locations in Sweden. This will pave the way for feedstock with beneficial qualitative properties, without compromising the growth of the trees, even in poor and abandoned soils. The project, which is led by Hannele Tuominen at SLU, is a collaboration between SLU, UmU and RISE. More information about Bio4Energy’s strategic funds and projects, including a list of ongoing and finalised projects, can be found under this link.

Text by the Bio4Energy programme managers and deputy programme manager