A year in the making, Bio4Energy wants to thank all of its followers in 2011. Northern forestBio4Energy designs tools and methods for making biofuels and 'green' chemicals from forest-sourced materials. The snap is of a forest in the Swedish part of the boreal belt. Photo by courtesy of Umeå University.

So far the B4E members have been busy building a research environment in bioenergy and biorefinery which links up three universities in northern Sweden, over 20 industrial partners and a handful of research institutes.

This year has seen plans for new research projects being drawn up by the seven B4E platforms dealing with forest-sourced feedstock, thermochemistry, biochemistry and process integration, as well those concerned with pretreatment and fractionation of raw materials, catalysis and separation, or environmental checks and balances.

Further, B4E has liaised with EU and Swedish authorities to spread the word about the potential embedded in the development of sustainable biorefinery based on non-food raw materials, mainly forest-sourced feedstock in the case of B4E, and seen several new cooperations take root.

In the New Year B4E will be going full steam, starting with an annual progress report to Swedish authorities which give financial support the research environment. While the B4E Board starts work to sharpen its vision and strategic direction, in February 2012, others will gather with the aim of turning into reality plans for a B4E Graduate School for training doctoral students across the three B4E partner universities. 

Programme researchers are set to meet at the end of March, after which the B4E industrial network will gather, likely mid May, to further plans for hands-on cooperation concerning the largely untapped resource contained in the biorefinery test sites and pilot facilities that line the east coast of northern Sweden.

Come June 2012, a number of B4E scientists are set to travel to Milan to attend the EU-backed annual Biomass Conference and Exhibition--a much touted event in Europe. And on from there. 

We are grateful to our sponsors whose support has allowed us to embark on an adventure called Bio4Energy. Late 2009, the Swedish government selected B4E to develop bioenergy solutions and biorefinery as one of its 'strategic reserach environments'. Undoutedly this would not have happened had there not been men and women at Umeå University, Luleå University of Technology and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences committed to making north Sweden a hub for research on and development of biofuels and "green" chemicals.

Last but not least, 21 companies in the biorefinery, paper and pulp and processing industries, and experts on research and development, believed in the B4E research environment enough to sign a declaration of intent to contribute to it. Together with programme researchers--there are some 90 of them--those partners have promised to do what they can to develop environmentally, socially and economically sustainable biorefinery. They have until 2014, which marks the end of the first programme period of B4E, to show that they can.

Stellan Marklund, the B4E programme manager, likes to remind researchers and industrial stakeholders alike that B4E strives for rendering all links of the biorefinery value chain maximally efficient, using all parts of the tree and the waste streams that may flow from processing the raw materials. And that the platform which he leads, the Environmental one, will be working to assess what environmentally risky steps might be involved and work to minimise environmentally harmful emissions.

Those are some of our plans. But on this day, 23 December 2011, we mostly want to say Merry Christmas and best wishes for a new and exciting 2012. Do keep in touch.


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