Tuesday 19 March Bio4Energy will mark the start of its Graduate QiujuGao MarEdo 313PhD students Qiuju Gao and Mar Edo do research to check pollutant emissions from biomass conversion into bioenergy products such as char, gas or oil. Here in front of a piece of GC-MS equipment at Umeå University that they use to perform their technical analyses. GC-MS is short for gas chromatography–mass spectrometry. Photo by Bio4Energy.
School with a two-day conference at Skellefteå, Sweden. Some 30 doctoral students will be giving presentations, along with the former director general of the Swedish Energy Agency, Tomas Kåberger of Chalmers University of Technology and Jan Lagerström of Swedish Forest Industries' Federation, a Swedish forestry industry trade union.

The “best” PhD presentation will be awarded a 2013 Solander Biorefinery Award of 20,000 Swedish kroner (€2,393)—offered by the Solander Science Park at Piteå, Sweden—as an added spur and encouragement for the student to keep seeking new knowledge and integration with B4E industrial and academic networks, according to the B4E Graduate School coordinator This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. The student would also be invited to present his or her research at an Energy and Environmental Week conference, given annually at Piteå, in a bid to "acknowledge young researchers", the Luleå University of Technology assistant professor Rova said.

Tomas Kåberger, who chairs the Japan Renewable Energy Foundation, would come to share his considerable experience of what constitutes “a successful energy system”, with examples from Sweden and other countries; while the research director Jan Lagerström would outline future needs of the Swedish forestry industry in terms of research and development, Rova said.

"As a society we will be facing great change in the next decades. A transition to a bio-based economy is a necessity. Bio4Energy can contribute substantially to make this transition come about", Lagerström said in an e-mail.

"The forestry industry sees the Graduate School as an important contribution towards providing industry with continued professional training and competent personnel", he added. 

Graduate School is open to PhD students in B4E—for now    

Open to PhD students in B4E, the first edition of the graduate school, including an annual conference and two intensive courses, would be worth 15 Swedish high school credits, said Rova. She could not say whether the following editions would be given annually or biannually or the graduate school opened to PhD student who are not members of B4E.

“We will see whether we think there are benefits to entering into cooperation with other graduate schools or universities. We will be constructing a website where we can post information to our student to direct them to external courses that we think are worthwhile”, according Rova.

The 19-20 March conference, meanwhile, looks certain to be a festive event of intense networking between the PhD student, a handful of B4E’s researchers at the post-doctoral level; invited because they had “valuable experience” to share and links to other universities or international research collaborations; as well as the graduate school coordinators plus the two high-profile names in Swedish bioenergy circles. 

Student: Plans for graduate school was 'big part' of reason to join B4E
 
Qiuju Gao from China joined B4E in April 2012 after obtaining a Master’s degree in Environmental Chemistry from KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, the Swedish capital. She does research to assess emissions of persistent organic pollutants, such as dioxins, in the conversion of solid biomass into bio-char, bio-gas and bio-oil, in a team lead by Umeå University assistant professor This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. The process hinges on a thermo-chemical conversion process known as pyrolysis, in which biomass is broken down in a reactor at extreme temperatures—from around 200 degrees Celsius and upwards—in an environment void of oxygen.

Gao said she was excited about attending the first programme conference of the B4E Graduate School which had been an important factor in her decision to apply for a PhD position in B4E.

“Actually, it was a big part of the reason”, Gao said. “I feel [the graduate school curriculum gives] a kind of general overview” of the areas covered by B4E. Meeting researchers and students from other disciplines but interested in the same subject matters had been a great draw for her, as well as the fact that the perspective was that of “sustainable development and benefit for the whole of society”, she said.

Previous to coming to Sweden, Gao had been working at one of the Chinese government’s national centres for environmental monitoring. Her job had been to check for levels and composition of pollutants in ambient air, among other things.

“I felt my knowledge needed to be updated”, she said. So she went ahead and did encompassing studies, of which her Swedish Master’s. And before long she was working at Umeå University and about to enter the B4E Graduate School.

“I think I will get some new ideas and new knowledge” and an “overview of the whole process” of the bioenergy value chain, Gao said, adding: “I think Bio4Energy has [had] a good start and clear direction”.

Umeå University published a press release on Newsdesk Sweden.

Luleå University of Technology did  a follow-up article based on Bio4Energy's press release.
 

As of 20 March 2013, press coverage of the opening of the Bio4Energy Graduate School has been spotted on Chemicalnet.se, Kemivarldenbiotech.se and Webfinanser.se, as well as in Bioenergitidningen, Ny Medicin and, a day later, in Norran.

pdf  Meeting_Programme_B4E_Graduate_School_Programme_Conference

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