A number of Bio4Energy scientists, and three of its industrial partners, PGardestrm SMarklundPer Gardeström (right) won a grant to study the lives of mitochondria in leaves. Photographed with Stellan Marklund. Photo by Bio4Energy.
have won grants to pay for future research and awards for excellence 
respectively. Two Swedish research funding bodies, Formas and the Swedish Research Council, provided the grants to four professors and several associated colleagues active across the B4E partner universities.

As regards the industrial partners, Biofuels maker Domsjö Fabriker, and Smurfit Kappa, the international pulp and paper group, won awards from RISI, a European industry body. These were presented in Brussels, Belgium, 15 November. Meanwhile, Chemrec, producing bioDME diesel fuel from a waste product of forestry operations, made an international listing of companies seen as forerunners in the development of technologies with a low environmental impact.

Among the B4E researchers granted funding, 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., of the B4E Feedstock and Biochemical Platforms, both affiliated with Umeå University in northern Sweden, each received just over two million Swedish kronor (€220,000) from the Swedish Research Council.

So too did B4E vice programme manager This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.who is part of B4E’s energy engineering team at Luleå University of Technology. His research group was awarded some SEK3 million for a research project on ‘ash formation in connection to combustion and gasification of forest-sourced biomass and agricultural waste products rich in phosphorous on flue beds’.

“We look at biosynthesis gas. Several techniques are at the stage of demonstration. Ash (formation from biomass combustion) can be an impediment to optimal functioning of flue beds”, said professor Öhman. Burning biomass using flue beds, in which a bed of sand serves to distribute the heat across the incinerator, was one promising line of gasification technology in terms of energy efficiency and completeness of combustion, said Öhman. The latter generally meant that polluting emissions could be kept low, he added.

“We want to track the pathways of the phosphorous through these processes and understand what compounds are formed. If we find that there is formation of glass or ash… we will come up with… suggestions for countering it”, Öhman said.

Lignocellulose conversion, mitochondria in leaves, wood formation

The Umeå University professor Jönsson will be running a research project on ‘molecular mechanisms underlying efficient bioconversion of lignocellulose’ which is a chief component of trees and biomass. Gardeström, who is a professor with the Umeå Plant Science Centre, will continue to study the characteristics of mitochondria in the leaves of trees and the role of mitochondria in photosynthesis and senescence or change in the biology of an organism as it ages after its maturity. 

Gardeström said that this type of basic research was needed to understand the cell metabolism of plants. In the longer perspective it was "essential knowledge for metabolic engineering", he added;

“We first need to sort out how the machine works before we can say how it could be changed to better serve our purposes”.

His colleagues at UPSC, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and Hannele Tuominen, for their part, received about SEK3 million each from the Swedish Research Council Formas. Professor Sundberg, of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, will be ‘identifying genetic programmes that direct the formation of wood starting from a perspective of ethylene biology’, while Tuominen will study the composition of lignin, for the purpose of achieving a ‘sustainable use of woody raw materials’. Lignin is an organic compound that binds to cellulose fibers and hardens the cell walls of plants. As such, it is the main non-carbohydrate constituent of wood.

More than the individual sums of monies awarded, the fact that B4E scientists were acknowledged by well-respected national funding bodies showed that B4E had “basic and fundamental research of high class” that spun across the research environment, Öhman said;

“The work in most (B4E) platforms is funded by the Swedish Research Council to some extent, both at Luleå and Umeå. This is a quality stamp on the research in Bio4Energy”.

Swedish press coverage of awards to B4E industrial partners

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RISI's description of the winners



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