Bio4Energy researcher Hans Hellsmark, of the SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden, is part of a B4E team trying to gauge the role of pilot facilities in biorefinery technology development in a societal perspective. Photo by Bio4Energy.
Several such collaborative, cross-disciplinary projects, have received support from the Bio4Energy Strategic Funds. This fund only sponsors projects of the highest academic caliber and which are potentially useful for a range of actors along the value chain of relevant biorefinery products. A Bio4Energy Researchers’ Meeting, 15 October at Luleå, highlighted a few such "strategic" B4E projects.
In this review, B4E Communications has received a helping hand from researchers directly involved in shaping these projects and who gave presentations at the meeting.
Umea Energi CEO Göran Ernstson and municipality representatives Lennart Holmlund and Elvy Söderström launch the process of setting up torrefaction demonstration facilities close to Umeå, in northern Sweden, by showeling some dirt to signal that the start of constructing the plant. Photo by Bio4Energy.
Bio4Energy researchers and industrial partners yesterday showcased the results of intense efforts to create state-of-the art pilot facilities for a biomass pre-treatment technique which has stirred interest internationally for its ability to produce an energy-dense, easy-to-transport form of ”green” coal.
Situated just off the main university campus at Umeå, Sweden, the torrefaction pilot facilities were opened in grand pomp by Göran Ernstson, CEO of Umeå Energi, the local energy utility, and representatives from the two partnering municipalities of Umeå and Örnsköldsvik, in the presence of just under a hundred invited guests.
As reported by Bio4Energy in May, the pilot facilities were designed to trial torrefaction technology based on some ten patents owned by B4E researchers at Umeå University as the small clean-tech firm BioEndev. The Torrefaction Pilot will turn out 150 kilogrammes of torrefied material per hour, while the future demonstration unit, to be located at Holmsund just outside Umeå, is set to churn out two tonnes of "green" coal per hour.
A new use of the cassava plant—a woody shrub grown in tropical or subtropical regions of the world—could mean an increase in the availability of food, while at the same time providing a new source of biofuel, whether solid, liquid or gaseous, a team of Swedish and Chinese researchers have found. Starch grains seen in a cross section of a cassava stem. Photo by courtesy of Shaojun Xiong.
“Cassava stems have previously been overlooked in starch and energy production”, the researchers, of whom two of Bio4Energy, say in a study freshly published in the online version of Global Change Biology Bioenergy, a peer-reviewed scientific journal.
Today the cassava plant is extensively cultivated for its starchy tuberous root and is the third-largest source of food carbohydrates in the tropics after rice and maize, according to online encyclopedias. Being drought tolerant by nature and capable of growing on marginal soils, it is a major food staple in the developing world, providing a basic diet for over half a billion people. Countries like China have turned their interest to cassava for its suitability as a feedstock in bioethanol production.
However, because so many less well-to-do people rely on the cassava—alternatively called manioc, yuca, balinghoy, mogo, mandioca, kamoteng kahoy, tapioca or manioc root plant; depending on where in the world it is grown—biofuel making based on the cassava root could easily been seen as an example of one man’s food being turned into another man’s fuel. This week the European Parliament voted to prevent such displacement of food production, or of land used to grow food or feed, by capping the use of so-called first-generation biofuel in the EU at six per cent of its goal to have ten per cent of final energy use in automotive transport come from renewable sources by 2020.
Bio4Energy and its partners could be a sounding board and a Kentaro Umeki, a biomass gasification researcher in Bio4Energy, tells mainly Latin American renewable energy stakeholders meeting in Quito, in July, about the Swedish energy system and the contribution of Bio4Energy. Photo by courtesy of Kentaro Umeki. source of technology transfer for Ecuador, as stakeholders in its government and academia prepare to step up action on plans to reduce the heavy dependence of its country's energy sector on hydrocarbons for heat, power and automotive fuels, a B4E researcher has suggested. Technology designed to make two or more energy-dependent industrial processes function smoothly together—such as in a combined heat and power (CHP) operation—or guidance on the way in which to apply system analysis on energy production pathways, could be especially in demand.
This week an EU research and innovation project demonstrated a Bio4Energy researchers Aji Mathew and Kristiina Oksman head up an EU-sponsored project designed to make bio-based filters for water purification. Photo by courtesy of the Luleå University of Technology. technology that will scale up production of a bio-based composite material which, project researchers hope, will be used in future to make filters for water purification. The demonstration was performed at the Luleå University of Technology (LTU) in Sweden, where the material made from biorefinery residue was first put together by Bio4Energy scientists, a B4E expert on nanotechnological applications of bio-based products confirmed.
Apart from potentially doing away with the problem of how to dispose of the biorefinery’s waste sludge, commercial production of the new material could mean a viable bio-based alternative had been found to petrochemical or metal-based materials in food packaging liners, the researchers said. However, financial support was needed to take production of the promising product from the laboratory scale to volumes that could start making sense to commercial operators, all the while ensuring the process was cost efficient, Oksman explained at the time.
The Energy Technology Centre, a Bio4Energy member organisation, is part of a dynamic biofuel research and development cluster at Piteå in northern Sweden. Photo montage by courtesy of Magnus Marklund. The Energy Technology Centre at Piteå—a 15-employee-strong not-for-profit firm in northern Sweden and a founding member of Bio4Energy—is set to expand its work on bioenergy and biorefinery applications and has just launched a call for three more researchers to join the ETC.
By 2030 one in three cars in Sweden could run on biofuel made in Branches and tops from forestry operations in mainly coniferous forests could be the stuff of biofuels that Swedes choose to put in the tank in future. Photo by Robert Kraft, Stock Photos. the country and mainly from residue from forestry operations or non-edible agricultural produce such as biomass-based waste.
This is according to a report submitted by Swedish researchers to an official government investigation on how to wean the Swedish transport sector of fossil fuels by 2050 and to make it “carbon neutral”.
The Production of Today’s and Future Sustainable Biofuels report, written in part by Bio4Energy researchers, suggests that the country could increase its annual biofuel production to as much as 25-35 terawatt hours (TWh), keeping with today’s “technological restrictions, and to a certain extent also ecological and economic restrictions”.
Sweden’s current biofuel production has been estimated at three TWh, part of a total energy supply in 2010 of 616 TWh, 96 TWh of which found final use in the transport sector, according to 2012 statistics from the Swedish Energy Agency.
Bio4Energy just issued a thematic newsletter for June-August 2013 On popular demand, Bio4Energy has issued a newsletter on some of its R&D projects in which industry or research institutes are weighty cooperation partners. On this note, we would like to wish you a happy summer—from a rainy Sweden, but where the tulips still stand. Photo by Bio4Energy. outlining several projects in which B4E researchers have not only delivered results to advance biorefinery technology, but also cooperated extensively with industry, research institutes and academia.
Here are some highlights:
Bio4Energy Collaborations (Presentations from a recent B4E seminar on the subject may be downloaded here.)
Biofuel report to Sweden's Investigation on Fossil-fuel-free Transport Imminent
Inauguration of Torrefaction Pilot Set for October
Research Breakthrough: Important Wood Polymer Forms on Death of Helper Cells
Algae, Environmentally-benign Fertilizer Production Demonstrated at Umeå
Awaited Database to Produce Economic Benefit