New Neutron-based Technology Set to Improve Process Control in Biorefineries, Bioenergy Operations

TL MT SL AS11116Bio4Energy researchers Torbjörn Lestander (left), Mikael Thyrel and Sylvia Larsson won funding for a test-bed pilot which technology is expected to be essential for the efficient operation of biorefineries and biomass combustion facilities. Photo by Bio4Energy.

An instrument that can help biorefinery industry and bioenergy utilities detect and remove or neutralise elements that scupper the process or pollute the environment directly as the biomass is fed into the conversion or combustion process. It sounds like every industrial operator's dream, does it not?

For operators in northern Sweden it could come true within a few years, thanks to funding just granted to Bio4Energy researchers for the purchase of a new instrument drawing on neutron technology for the rapid and advanced online characterisation of woody materials, biomass ash and organic waste. 

"The instrument allows for a considerable advancement when it comes to technology since the neutrons have a depth of penetration of tens of centimetres into the test material, which opens up the possibility rapidly to characterise large volumes of heterogeneous material", the researchers from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) say in their application to the funding provider, the Kempe Foundations.

"This means that the technology can be placed on a conveyor belt which makes it a true online technique with a large potential to realise the necessary characterisation needed for process control in resource-efficient and flexible biorefineries of the future", they go on.

Read more: New Neutron-based Technology Set to Improve Process Control in Biorefineries, Bioenergy Operations

Biogas Scrubbers, Phosphorus Recycling Technology to Be Developed Thanks to New Grants

Phosphorus Google 41116Plants need phosphorus to grow and of a kind that they can assimilate. Photo by courtesy of Google Images (4 November).Thanks to new grants from the Swedish Research Council, three new projects can go ahead in Bio4Energy aimed at developing cost-efficient and clean technologies for biogas or synthesis gas scrubbing, which can serve as alternatives to similar technologies based on the use non-renewable fossil fuels. In addition, Bio4Energy's flagship project on phosphorus recovery and removal of contaminants from waste sludge can be taken a step further towards implementation of the technology on a commercial scale.

Funding from the Council, known by its acronym VR, generally aims to support frontline fundamental research that brings new knowledge to the research community. Receiving a grant from VR is considered as being something highly prestigious. The four projects will be run by PIs on the platforms Bio4Energy Chemical Catalysis and Separation Technologies (Mattias Grahn and Jyri-Pekka Mikkola, respectively), Bio4Energy Thermochemical Conversion Technologies (Marcus Öhman) and Bio4Energy System Analysis and Bioeconomy (Xiaoyan Ji):

Read more: Biogas Scrubbers, Phosphorus Recycling Technology to Be Developed Thanks to New Grants

Deepening Ties Among Members Focus of Industrial Network Seminar by SP Processum, Bio4Energy

SP Processum and Bio4Energy gave a joint seminar for the SP Processum member companies and Bio4Energy's Industrial Network, yesterday at Örnsköldsvik, Sweden. Seventy-five people from industry, business incubators, academia, research institutes, consultancies and regional and national Swedish authorities came, listened to presentations, workshopped and networked. The focus was on deepening and widening the cooperation between the actors in the network, to uphold and strengthen the position of northern Sweden as a leading region for development of biorefinery based on wood or organic waste. 

Several speakers took the opportunity to reach out, or even to urge, members of northern Sweden's biorefinery business community to dare to take the step and cooperate to develop innovations.

One said: "If you think the real reason I am here is to market my offer you are right... We are bringing in new technology and infrastructure and I am asking you: 'Shall we dance?'".

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Read more: Deepening Ties Among Members Focus of Industrial Network Seminar by SP Processum, Bio4Energy

Improved Biofuel Production Key Theme in Bio4Energy's New Strategic Projects

Bio4energy cmykFive research projects deemed capable of promoting the strategic development of Bio4Energy, and the type of research and development its members carry out, have been selected for funding in the Bio4Energy’s second programme period. The projects are deemed to be beyond state of the art and to propose a new direction of research within the field of biorefinery based on wood or organic waste. Their project leaders, representing four of the seven Bio4Energy Research and Development Platforms, will be outlining their respective projects at a conference 25 October at Umeå, Sweden. For more, see the Bio4Energy Newsletter of this autumn. Here we list the 2016 Bio4Energy Strategic Projects.

  • Process Improvements for Methanol Production via Catalytic Biomass Gasification
  • Developing Neoteric Ionic Liquids for Enhancing Biomass Gasification to Produce Purified Biosyngas
  • Supercapacitors and High-energy/density Electrodes Based on Carbon Nanofibers from Lignin and Biochar
  • Nanocellulose Membranes and Adsorbents for Gas Separations and Ultrafiltration
  • Recirculation of Wood Ash in Boreal Catchments, Role of Fe-organic Carbon Aggregates and Processes along the Soil Solution Flow Paths

Read more: Improved Biofuel Production Key Theme in Bio4Energy's New Strategic Projects

New Voice in Brussels for Northern Sweden Biorefinery Stakeholders

magnus matisonsMagnus Matisons, Biofuel Region and the Bio4Energy Industrial Network, is a new representative for Sweden on the European Union Bioeconomy Stakeholder Panel. Photo by courtesy of Magnus Matisons.

Ever wished you had a voice in Brussels, to express your thoughts to European Union officials about what the EU should or should not do to promote the transition to a bioeconomy?

If you are in the Scandinavian part of Bio4Energy's network, chances are that you do.

In spring 2016 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. of the Bio4Energy Industrial Network received an e-mail from the European Commission to say he had been elected a member of the European Union Bioeconomy Stakeholder Panel. The Commission's research and innovation branch started up the panel in 2013 and now, with a newly elected membership for its second mandate, Sweden has no less than four representative on it.

"That's breaking a record", to believe Matisons.

Matisons is a well-known figure in forestry and biorefinery circles in northern Sweden. He has worked both as a scientist at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and, more recently, as project leader with Biofuel Region, which organisation works to promote biorefinery development across northern Sweden.

Read more: New Voice in Brussels for Northern Sweden Biorefinery Stakeholders

Lövfen told Government, Industry Should Act to Realise Large-scale Biorefinery

Lofven vid Domsjö J ForsbergSwedish Prime Minister Stefan Lövfen (centre) and rural affairs minister Sven-Erik Bucht paid a visit to Örnsköldsvik and Bio4Energy partners. Photo by J. Forsberg.Today, Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Lövfen, and his rural affairs minister Sven-Erik Bucht, made a flash tour of Västernorrland County, paying visits to partners in Bio4Energy's Industrial Network: SP Processum, Domsjö Fabriker and Holmen Skog.

"It was evident that they [Lövfen and Bucht] look favourably on our efforts to build a strong biorefinery region. It was spelt out already in this government's declaration of intent [at the time of taking office] that Sweden should become one of the first fossil fuel-free nations. Both the government and the business community have seen the need for and possibility to make the transition", said This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., CEO at SP Processum.

SP Processum acts as a science partner to a host of member companies in and around the northern Swedish city of Örnsköldsvik.

The visit there follows others to the region by the Swedish energy minister Ibrahim Baylan, who came to meet Bio4Energy at Umeå in November 2014, and his innovation counterpart's participation in the final stages of last year's Innovation Race, in which representatives of companies, research institutes and academia met at Umeå over several days to come up with innovative solutions for realising the bioeconomy.

Read more: Lövfen told Government, Industry Should Act to Realise Large-scale Biorefinery

System Analysis Needed for Pointing Politicians, Scientists, in Right Direction on Energy

Ibrahim Balyan SAEE 2016Sweden's energy minister Ibrahim Baylan told a conference that academic input had been vital for the government's recent Energy Agreement with opposition parties to go through. Photo by courtesy of the Luleå University of Technology.

A conference by Bio4Energy researchers and colleagues on the transformation of Sweden's energy system finished at Luleå last week, with keynote speaker Ibrahim Baylan, the Swedish energy minister, concluding that the recent Energy Agreement struck by the government and parties in political opposition before the summer recess hardly had been possible had the government not consulted widely with academic stakeholders.

"He spoke about the Energy Agreement, but included a discussion on the need for research as a basis for political decision-making", said conference coordinator This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., who represents Bio4Energy's System Analysis and Bioeconomy branch.

The agreement between the ruling Social Democrats and Greens, and the Moderate Party, Christian Democrats and Centre Party in opposition, states that Sweden aims for its economy to have zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045 and for its electrical power production system to be "100 per cent renewable" by 2040.

The 23-24 August conference, hosted by the Swedish Association for Energy Economics and the Luleå University of Technology (LTU), also heard energy profile Tomas Kåberger, professor at the Chalmers University of Technology, contribute a global perspective and, notably, talking up solar energy as having a great potential of increasing the share of renewables in the overall energy mix. He had pointed to the example of how Germany has kept subsidising solar power installations and how, subsequently, solar panels have become mainstay on German rooftops, according to professor Lundmark.

Read more: System Analysis Needed for Pointing Politicians, Scientists, in Right Direction on Energy

Happy Summer from Bio4Energy

Photo by Anna Strom2016Swedish summer at its best? Photo by Anna Strom©.Bio4Energy is taking a break and will be back in a few weeks. Meanwhile we wish our researchers, partners, friends and stakeholders a great summer—or winter, if you are in the Southern Hemisphere.

When we come back we hope to have the pleasure of welcoming you to one or more of our autumn 2016 events:

23-24 August at Luleå, Sweden: Conference on the Transformation of the Swedish Energy System by the Swedish Association on Energy Economics. Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Bio4Energy System Analysis and Bioeconomy

25 October, Umeå, Sweden: Bio4Energy Researchers' Meeting – Open to Bio4Energy’s member researchers. Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Bio4Energy Communcations

26 October, Örnsköldsvik, Sweden: SP Processum and Bio4Energy Joint Membership and Industrial Network Meeting – Invitations will go out in August. Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Bio4Energy Communcations

15-16 November, Örnsköldsvik, Sweden: 7th Workshop on Cellulose – Regenerated Cellulose and Cellulose Derivatives. Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Bio4Energy Biopolymers and Biochemical Conversion Technologies

Happy summer!

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