GordonDriver2-3511Gordon Driver is on a "journey for lignin", he said in May. Photo by Anna Strom©.

Bio4Energy has been expanding at a rapid pace and counts more than 50 researchers. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.were among those phasing in their activities this spring.

As part of the B4E platform that does research on catalysis and separation of forest-sourced biomass, Kordás specialises in the synthesis and application of photocatalytic nanomaterials. Some of his recent research has potential applications for water purification, abatement of volatile organic compounds or conversion and reduction of carbon dioxide, he said when B4E researchers met in Lövånger in May.

“Materials of photocatalysis find use also in conventional catalysis, chemical sensors and nanoelectronics”, according to Kordás.

Kordás is an assistant professor at Umeå University. In addition he is affiliated with the University of Oulu, Finland, where he holds a senior lectureship in nanotechnology and is a chief assistant at the Microelectronics and Materials Physics Laboratories, at the Department of Electrical and Information Engineering.



Solvents for biomass

For his part, Gordon Driver is a group leader in technical chemistry at Umeå University, where he will be exploring whether Brønsted acidic ionic liquids may be used to produce solvents for biomass, using lignin as feedstock. Wikipedia.org 7 July described lignin as being a "complex chemical compound most commonly derived from wood, and an integral part of the secondary cell walls of plants and some algae".

Driver would be looking in particular at the targeted acidylosis of lignin and explore some of its "many sub units”, he said. The project would involve using statistical thermodynamical analysis in a controlled approach. One application could be to use reactions obtained to recycle or to “purify” biomass waste streams from the biorefinery process.

“It’s all about where electrons are or where they’re going or where they’re coming from”, he told the May meeting, illustrating complex chemical reactions using an electron chart. 

Driver, who holds a Doctor of Philiosphy degree (PhD) in Chemistry, takes an interest in experimental and theoretical proton chemistry in ionic liquids, liquid/gas state thermodynamics, as well as certain types of spectroscopy and modeling. He is a part of Umeå University’s Technical-Biological Center and of the Laboratory of Industrial Chemistry and Reaction Engineering at the Åbo Akademi, a Finnish university.

UrsFischer2-3511_Urs Fischer works to make trees grow faster and be pest resistant. Photo by Anna Strom©.Improved feedstock

Urs Fischer has a background in botany and holds a PhD in that subject from the University of Bern in Switzerland. As a researcher in B4E, he is concerned with the genetic modification or, as he said giving a presentation in May, the “improvement” of feedstock in view of producing bioenergy. Fischer is also a guest researcher at the Department of Forest Genetics and Plant Physiology at the Umeå-based branch of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, SLU.

In fact, after finishing his PhD, Fischer took up a postdoctoral position at the Umeå Plant Science Centre, which is a leading Swedish research centre on the genetic modification of plants and trees, as well as the professional home of several prominent researchers on the B4E Feedstock Platform.

From there, Fischer went on to serve as a group leader at the Forest Faculty of the University of Göttingen in Germany and, in 2010, became a guest researcher at the Scottish Crop Science Institute at Dundee, after which he returned to Sweden and Umeå to become a group leader in B4E.

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