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Latest Events

International Seminar on Biorefinery, Fredriksberg, Denmark
December 04, 2014 (All Day)
BiovalueSpir, University of Copenhagen, Faculty of Science. Register by 7 November 2014.
Thesis Defence: Monoterpenes to High Value-added Chemicals
December 04, 2014 (10:00)
Mikhail Golets, Bio4Energy Catalysis and Separation Platform
Swetox Annual Workshop, Stockholm, Sweden
December 16, 2014 (All Day)
Patrik Andersson, Umeå University
Bio4Energy Steering Group Meeting, by phone
December 16, 2014 (10:00)
Stellan Marklund, Bio4Energy Programme Manager
View full calendar


Bio4Energy on Twitter

@Bio4Energy - No retweets here
#Do you know the conference Impacts of Fuel Quality on Power Production? This year Bio4Energy gave 1/5th of its talks! 2:47 pm - 10 Nov 2014#     
#Växtämne ger nytt DNA till sjuka celler  - Lignin som medicinbärare? Forskning presenterad vid Lignin 2014-konferensen 1:10 pm - 29 Sep 2014#
#Idag sänder SR P1 ett reportage om det senaste inom lignin forskning- och utveckling, från konferensen Lignin 2014. Lyssna kl. 12.10! 12:04 pm - 29 Sep 2014#
#Skogsriket uppmärksammar Bio4Energy och konferensen Lignin 2014. Världsledande forskning om produkter från skogen! … 1:15 pm - 11 Sep 2014#     ·
#Is the use of lignin, a plant polymer, as a substitute for petrochemicals in products ready to take off? 1:14 pm - 10 Sep 2014#
#Vetenskapsradion täcker konferensen Lignin 2014! Lyssna till P1 nästa vecka; reportaget kommer troligtvis på torsdag. 7:48 pm - 27 Aug 2014#
#Guro Elise Fredheim is telling Lignin 2014 Borregaard uses lignin products to make binders, dispersants, concrete &... vanilla flavouring! 5:18 pm - 27 Aug 2014#
#Want to see who is at the Lignin 2014 conference at Umeå, Sweden? Have a look here: 4:40 pm - 26 Aug 2014#
#Håll i er allihopa: Imorgon börjar industridelen av konferensen Lignin 2014! Kan vi göra högvärdiga produkter av trädpolymeren lignin? 4:26 pm - 26 Aug 2014#           

#Lignin 2014 has started! Leading researchers Noritsugu Terashima and Niko Geldner presented this morning. Norman Lewis to speak on lignans. 1:12 pm - 25 Aug 2014#

#Konferensen Lignin 2014 i Umeå har nu 155 och gräddan inom forskning och utveckling kommer! Kommer du?  1:34 pm - 19 Aug 2014#
#Biorefinery products from lignin? Join Lignin 2014 in Sweden & get the latest from top scientists and developers! 3:08 pm - 8 Aug 2014#
#Ligninkonferens samlar eliten inom forskning och utveckling i Umeå - . Registrera er innan 9 augusti. Välkomna! 12:14 PM - 7 Aug 2014#
#Join science forerunners and developers in industry at the Lignin 2014 Conference--24-28 August, Sweden, @Lignin2014. 4:26 pm - 1 Aug 2014#
#Bio4Energy just joined Twitter! We are a research environment developing sustainable biorefinery from woody feedstock or organic waste. 6:07 am - 1 Aug 2014#

In the Press

Bio4Energy researcher behind project: 17 miljoner till forskning om rökgaser och avloppsvatten, Arbetsliv



Italy pushes ahead with 'next generation' biofuels from waste, American Chamber of Commerce in Bulgaria

Småskaligt jordbruk kan mätta många munnar, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

Bio4Energy researcher Joakim Lundgren and others: ”Att sluta forska om biobränslen är som att skjuta sig i foten”, Ny Teknik

Virkesmängden ökar i skogen, P3 Direkt - Vetenskap och miljö

From Bio4Energy's friends at Purdue University: Research looks at how cellulose is produced, Canadian Biomass Magazine

Lignin 2014: Lignin: Ett alternativ till fossil råvara i produkter, Nordisk Papperstidning/

Bio4Energy Five Years On Print E-mail
Written by Anna Strom   
Monday, 24 November 2014 16:47

Bio4Energy-Steerging-Group-1114The Bio4Energy core team. From left: Marcus Öhman, Rainer Backman, Leif Jönsson, Magnus Marklund, Stellan Marklund, Jyri-Pekka Mikkola and Sven-Olof Lundqvist. Photo by Anna Strom©.Since 2009, Bio4Energy has gone from being a vision by five partners of collaboration across university boundaries, to being an integrated research environment. In this, researchers in academia, at institutes and commercial companies work together to make biorefinery based on woody feedstock an alternative for the pulp and paper industry, as well as a key plank of the European bioeconomy.

To turn its vision to reality, Bio4Energy has been receiving funding from the Swedish government. This latter has ordered a final evaluation of the first five years of the so-called Strategic Research Environment, a concept created by the previous Swedish right-wing government. However, since this year, Sweden has a new government led by the Social Democrats in cooperation with the Greens. Subsequently, it is in charge of the evaluation.

Whereas scientific excellence will be one measure of Bio4Energy’s performance, tangible proof of its researchers' efforts to collaborate across partner institutions and outreach to industry will be others. Bio4Energy itself is in an intense period of introspection, taking stock of the research and development carried out to date, and laying down operational plans for a possible second mandate. This would span the years 2015 to 2020 and build on the lines of research which have proven the most successful during 2010-2015.

As one leg of this exercise, Bio4Energy at its latest biannual workshop for its researchers, 20-21 November at Skellefteå, Sweden, asked its research platform leaders to outline the Best of 'Bio4Energy 1'—their greatest achievements to date. A slightly different set of research and development platforms have been proposed for 2015-2020. Their presumptive members met on the second day of the workshop to outline specific research goals for 'Bio4Energy 2'. To the extent that presentations have been forwarded to Bio4Energy Communications, the result of both exercises are attached to this article.

Bio4Energy Graduate School: Generic Bio4Energy Course Has Focus on Innovation Print E-mail
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Written by Anna Strom   
Monday, 17 November 2014 15:35

Biofuels-Technology-Centre 171114Students and staff at work at the Biofuels Technology Centre, which are biorefinery pilot facilities at Umeå, Sweden, run by Bio4Energy researchers. Photo by courtesy of Sylvia Larsson.The second edition of the Biorefinery Pilot Research course in Bio4Energy’s own Graduate School has started with a roar, reinforced with interactive lectures on innovation and entrepreneurship in the nascent sector which is biorefinery based on woody raw materials and organic waste.

The course itself is generic to the research environment Bio4Energy and designed to give junior researchers, most of them studying for a PhD, a chance to experience the work at biorefinery pilot and demonstration facilities in northern Sweden. These facilities are at the heart of Sweden-based efforts to develop new or improved types of biofuel and bio-based chemicals.

"Our students can contribute substantially to the development of biorefinery research by asking questions" when in the field meeting researchers and technicians, said Bio4Energy PI Sylvia Larsson who coordinates the course Biorefinery Pilot Research. Questions which may become topics for the students' own work, whether they go on to serve in academia or in industry. To learn what questions most need to be asked and resolved, it would help them to have a handle on what innovation or entrepreneurship meant in practice, according Larsson, who is an associate professor at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences at Umeå.

"During the course we will be looking at [specific] innovation systems: The kind of innovation system which is centred on a specific pilot or demonstration facility and its role and function", she said just ahead of the start of this year’s Biorefinery Pilot Research course 11 November.

Researchers: Bio4Energy Rules at Leading Biomass Fuel Quality Conference Print E-mail
Written by Anna Strom   
Thursday, 06 November 2014 11:37

B4E-thermal-conversion AS211014The Bio4Energy Thermochemical, Environmental and Pretreatment and Fractionation Platforms work across the areas of biomass combustion, gasification and pyrolysis of woody feedstock, including wood, forestry residues and pulping by-products. Photo by Bio4Energy© 2014.

Late October, leading researchers on the quality of biomass-based fuels met as an Impacts of Fuel Quality on Power Production conference—given this year at Snowbird, Utah, U.S.A.—with one in five talks being delivered by a scientist from Bio4Energy.

While the conference is one of the most respected recurrent events on biomass combustion and gasification research, this year was special a special one for Bio4Energy—and indeed for its offshoot research and development programme Bio4Gasification.

"This is not just any conference but The Conference in fuel quality and with a large international following. This year we have 15 presentations related to Bio4Energy, mostly from the [Bio4Energy] Thermochemical Platform. This happens to be 20 percent of all presentations", Umeå University professor Rainer Backman said just ahead of travelling to the conference from northern Sweden.

"What is so nice about this is the fact that all our presentations are based on scientific articles which will be published in well-respected journals next year", said Backman, who took over the leadership of the Bio4Energy Thermochemical Platform earlier this year.

So what puts Bio4Energy apart when it comes to having a handle on the quality of biomass-based fuels?

For starters, its researchers have long-standing expertise on wood as a raw material in biofuel production. A string of reports have shown that woody feedstock is among the most efficient in terms of energy use and environmental impact, if the conversion method used is entrained-flow gasification.

Demonstration Unit for Biomass Torrefaction Takes Shape in Sweden Print E-mail
Written by Anna Strom   
Friday, 24 October 2014 13:45

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Slide show: Swedish industry representatives and academics at a recent visit to BioEndev Industrial Demonstration Unit for biomass torrefaction being built at Holmsund, Sweden. Partners SP Processum and Bio4Energy organised the visit in connection to a joint seminar. Photos by Bio4Energy.

January 2015 will see the startup of a high-efficiency, 65 million-Swedish-kroner demonstration unit for the torrefaction of woody biomass at Holmsund, Sweden. This technology for roasting biomass invented by Bio4Energy researchers has already been tested at pilot facilities at Umeå, a 20-minute drive from the demonstration unit in progress. While not fully operational until April 2015, the demonstration unit would be "cold started" at the beginning of 2015, according Anders Nordin of Umeå University, and for the first two years turn woody sawdust into tightly packed, high-energy density and hydrophobic heating pellets.

Nordin is a co-owner of BioEndev which small firm built the demonstration unit together with Swedish industrial partners such as BRUKS and SCA. This week, he and the BioEndev chief technical officer Ingemar Olofsson for the first time gave regional industry representatives and academia a tour of the facilities, consisting of several industrial buildings tucked away behind a barbed-wire fence in a forested area just off the main road to Holmsund from Umeå.  

Projects on Woody Biomass to Benefit Industry Within a Few Years Print E-mail
Written by Anna Strom   
Friday, 26 September 2014 12:02

Stump-in-SE-mixed-forest AnnaStromThe wax-like substance suberin, found in the outer bark of deciduous trees, may be a bio-based alternative for making polymers and polyurethanes. Photo by Anna Strom©.Making the stuff of bio-based plastics, identifying new value chains in "forest" biorefinery, finding the perfect method for quick drying sludge or pinning down the best kind of pine for making bio-based products. These are the topics of four research projects whose instigators, all Bio4Energy researchers based in northern Sweden, were awarded grants in the latest round of funding by the Swedish Research Council Formas.

"Swedish forestry industry needs to transition from traditional production of wood and pulp to a more varied and sustainable production of bio-based products", said Formas first secretary Gia Destouni in a press release announcing the grants, in lieu of justification for the need of the research projects thus enabled.

This is taken to mean that the industry could benefit from a move from pulp and paper making only, to full-scale biorefinery operations in which products as diverse as biofuels, "green" chemicals and specialty acids or the like could be made in one production unit.

Each of the four Bio4Energy research proposals, applied projects expected to result in methods or processes for industry to incorporate in their production within a few years, aim to add one small piece of the puzzle of such a transition:

  • Efficient conversion of forest biomass insoluble polyesters with potential use in lignocellulosic feedstock biorefineries;

  • Rapid drying of sludge from forestry industrial operations using vacuum technology;

  • Large-scale expansion of biorefinery: New value chains, products and the efficient use of woody biomass and;

  • Selection of elite populations of pine for the sustainable production of new bioenergy and carbohydrate products.
Latest in Lignin R&D: Swedish National Public Radio at Lignin 2014 Print E-mail
User Rating: / 2
Written by Anna Strom   
Monday, 29 September 2014 12:37

The science arm of Swedish national public radio has taken the pulse of the international Lignin 2014 conference.

Bio4Energy organised the conference in cooperation with the Umeå Plant Science Centre, the latter of which is an excellence centre in research on woody biomass shared by Umeå University and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences at Umeå, Sweden.

SR Vetenskap P1 main reportage:

 Audio spot on lignin in biomedical applications by SR Vetenskap P1:

Ligin 2014: Bio4Energy Presenters Acknowledged Print E-mail
Written by Anna Strom   
Wednesday, 10 September 2014 15:20

Bio4Energy would like to acknowledge its researchers who contributed a presentation to the Lignin 2014 conference, held 24-28 August at Umeå, Sweden.

Lignin-2014 Sandra-Winestrand Photo Anna-Strom 265x177Bio4Energy researcher Sandra Winestrand of Umeå University and the Billerud-Korsnäs group.'Smart' packaging designed to prolong the shelf-life of food

Sandra Winestrand and colleagues at Umeå and Karlstad Universities

Edited abstract: Extending the shelf-life of packaged food is a potential way of reducing food waste. One possible way to do this is by using a system that scavenges the oxygen inside a package equipped with an oxygen barrier. A common way to scavenge oxygen inside a package is to insert a small sachet containing iron powder. An alternative to this is to use oxygen-scavenging enzymes that can be incorporated directly in the coating layer of the package.

The phenol-oxidising enzyme laccase uses molecular oxygen as its oxidising substrate, and could therefore be used for the latter type of application. Laccase can use derivatives of lignin as its reducing substrate, which would be interesting from a biorefinery perspective since lignin derivatives are underused co-products in biorefinery based on lignocellulosic feedstock. The aims of the investigation were to understand how the properties of lignin derivatives affected the enzymatic reaction and the quality of the coating layer.

The study involved the use of lignin derivatives and preparations of size-fractionated lignin derivatives from industrial processing of lignocellulose. The molecular properties of the lignin derivatives before and after oxidation by laccase were investigated, as well as the capability of films and coatings to scavenge oxygen. The results indicate that laccase-catalysed cross-linking decreases oxygen levels and improves the water stability of the packaging material.

Lignin: A Possible Substitute for Petrochemicals in Products - Videos Print E-mail
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Written by Anna Strom   
Monday, 08 September 2014 16:26

Lignin-2014 Art-Ragauskas Photo Anna-Strom 185x265Art Ragauskas of the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, U.S.A., develops polyurethane applications from lignin, together with industrial partners. Photo by Anna Strom.Usually burnt to heat the facilities at pulp and paper-making operations after valuable carbohydrate components such as cellulose have been separated from the woody feedstock—and sometimes cursed for its tendency to stick like glue to the other components of the wood—the polymer lignin, making up almost a third of the wood in trees, has become hot property in research and development (R&D) geared at making bio-based products.

So what’s new, you might wonder. Biorefinery operators such as Borregaard of Norway and Domsjö Fabriker of Sweden have been using lignin for other products than energy for some time, mainly as a component of cement. Carbon fibres have been developed for various applications, for instance by the Swedish research institute Innventia; and there is Borregaard occupying a niche with the way in which it makes vanilla flavouring from the lignin polymer. Still, as biomass researcher John Ralph of the U.S.-based University of Wisconsin-Madison said in a recent interview with Swedish science journalists, "Nothing has come to the top yet as being a winner application" made from lignin.

Part of the reason for that is likely the complexity of lignin—making it hard to break away from the rest of the wood and perhaps even to understand—and its tendency to cling to the carbohydrates cellulose and hemicellulose inside the wood, like a cement holding them together. After all, lignin is what gives plants their sturdiness and allow them to reach their stems towards the sky despite gravity's pulling the other way.

'Zip' ligninLignin-2014 John-Ralph Photo Anna-Strom 265x177University of Wisconsin-Madison professor John Ralph, who is also a researcher at the Great Lakes Bioenergy Center, is the man whose research group has invented a method designed more easily to zip lignin apart. Photo by Anna Strom.

Either way, Ralph should know. On 27 August he presented a Lignin 2014 conference with groundbreaking fundamental research on how to alter trees from within, by introducing a modification designed to make its lignin content more malleable (watch a video excerpt of his presentation on The result would be a tree, say a poplar tree, with additional readily cleavable bonds in a part of its lignin content (in the so-called lignin backbone). The new lignin present in a tree thus modified should be easier to cleave into smaller pieces and to break away from the rest of the wood. Lignin researchers refer to this method, or rather its result, as "zip" lignin.

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