Bioenergy scientists in northern Sweden are about to take a next step in leif jp_at_pilotBio4Energy scientists Leif Jönsson and Jyri-Pekka Mikkola inspect pilot facilities at B4E member firm SEKAB at Örnsköldsvik, Sweden. Photo by courtesy of Umeå University.
developing one of the world’s leading research environments in biorefinery by linking up with pulp and paper makers, forestry operators and their processing industries, as well as a biorefinery umbrella organisation in biorefinery research and innovation.

December 1 at Örnsköldsvik, Sweden, researchers in Bio4Energy from universities at Luleå and Umeå, and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, will be hosting a meeting for north Sweden’s paper and pulp, forestry and biorefinery industries, together with the Processum Biorefinery Initiative.

This organisation runs research and development activities for its 21 industrial member firms in biorefinery of forest-sourced materials. Notably Processum is setting up pilot facilities at Örnsköldsvik by which to test and refine raw materials—generally biomass or waste streams from forestry operations, or other organic waste—with a view to make biofuels or “green” chemicals. Processum also plays host to a state-sponsored ‘Biorefinery of the Future’ project to bring research on bioenergy and
biorefinery to industry. B4E industrial partner SEKAB has summarised the Processum mandate.

Some 90 stakholders to forestry and biorefinery R&D have signed up to attend the 1 December meeting. The B4E and Processum leadership said it should serve to connect the scientific and business communities and, notably, start opening up the region's “unique” set of demonstration facilities to researchers throughout the country.

“By taking this initiative we want to provide a forum for researchers and business to find common ground. They affect each other's activities and develop jointly”, said B4E programme manager Stellan Marklund, who is also a professor at Umeå University.

Once inaugurated, the Processum “pilot park” will be filling a void in the existing park of demonstration facilities that line the coast of northeastern Sweden, according to Processum CEO Clas Engström. The new installations will enable researchers and process engineers to run trials on a medium-range scale which are larger than such performed in a laboratory but smaller than those mimicking industrial production. A range of raw materials, products and processes could be tested on site, Engstöm added.

“Thanks to the pilot installations (those performing trials) will be able to complement different techniques at different scales in view of running tests on biomass”, said Engström who used to work to facilitate contacts between academia and the business community as a consultant with Sweco EuroFutures, before joining Processum in 2009. 

“All processes in biorefinery are interlinked. We looked carefully at what might be missing with regard to biorefinery pilot equipments. We saw that (facilities for performing trials) on a medium-range scale were missing and that the (different installations in the) park would have to be very flexible. We need to be able to test many… materials in small steps. You should be able to apply high-pressure treatments, break materials down into fractions, tumble them and combine various (processes)”.

If cooperation between industry and academia on the region's biorefinery demonstration facilities could be further deepened, some of them might be opened up to biorefinery researchers throughout the country and, perhaps, beyond.

“In an international perspective this (would be) unique”, Engström said. 

Pilot facilities at Umeå, Piteå, Härnösand, Sundsvall and Örnsköldsvik will be presented a the 1 December meeting. Members of the press, and biorefinery stakeholders who register with Processum, are encouraged to attend from 10.30 a.m. at address; Hörnebergsvägen 12, Örnsköldsvik, Sweden.

B4E and Processum Biorefinery Initiative 29 November issued a press release in Swedish to local, regional and national press and selected stakeholders.

B4E-2-Entry

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