Bio4Energy

  • Projects on Next Generation Bio-based Materials, Processes to Start Next Month

    VR grants 21117Bio4Energy researchers will kick off three new projects next month designed, respectively, to make carbonised lignin materials, and chemicals from carbon dioxide and electricity, as well as to create knowledge on nutrient interactions with heavy metal content in biomass ash used as fertilizer.

    This week, the prestigious Swedish Research Councilannounced its decision fund them, along with 322 other top-of-the-line fundamental research projects nationally, on the back of its annual call for proposals on Science and Technology.

    All three projects run over four years. Each are at the leading-edge of bio-based research, expected to pave the way for industrial innovation. In Bio4Energy, they are under the supervision of scientists on two different R&D platforms: Bio4Energy Biopolymers and Biochemical Conversion Technologies and Bio4Energy Environment and Nutrient Recycling.

  • Pyrolysis Oil from Biomass Could Be Early Alternative to Fossil Oil in Transition to Society Fuelled by Renewables

    MM Pyrolysis 16615Magnus Marklund and his team at the SP ETC will be able to continue the development of applications of biomass-based pyrolysis oil, thanks to new funding grants from the Swedish Energy Agency and Kempe Foundations. Photo by Maria Fäldt.Pyrolysis of biomass—thermochemical decomposition of wood or organic waste at elevated temperatures and with minimal presence of oxygen—could be an "interesting" option in a transition to replacing today's fossil oil with renewable alternatives, according to a Bio4Energy expert on the thermal conversion of biomass to fuels and chemicals. Thus far, however, lack of knowledge about the composition of the bio-oil obtained from pyrolysis of wood or woody waste has been a hindrance efficiently to design techniques for producing and using such bio-oil, to believe researchers in Bio4Energy at the SP Energy Technology Center(SP ETC) at Piteå, in Sweden.

    After five years of research in Bio4Energy, and three new funding grants enabling the start of two research projects and the purchase of state-of-the-art instrumentation, that may be about to change.

    Until recently, "perhaps 50 per cent of the contents of the oil made by way of pyrolysis could be mapped by ordinary gas chromatography and other methods", said This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., CEO at the SP ETC, having just received the announcement of two research grants worth more than eight million Swedish kronor from the Swedish Energy Agency, plus support for highly advanced analytical equipment called GCxGC MS from the Kempe Foundations. GC is short for gas chromatography, which in this case is two dimensional, but in this new instrument it has been coupled with a technique called mass spectrometry.

    "With the new funding from the Energy Agency for the research projects and for a state-of-the-art analytic instrument from Kempe we are going to complement, strengthen and inventory what is being done on an international top level.
  • R&D Platform Meeting: System Analysis and Bioeconomy, Umeå, Sweden

  • Report on New Method to Map Biomass Properties Receives Praise, but Author Warns Large-scale Testing, Industry Cooperation, Needed

    Mikael Thyrel Photo by Anna StromBio4Energy reseracher Mikael Thyrel has been acknowledged for his work by the Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry. Photo by Anna Strom©.The composition of different types of biomass materials varies widely and may even vary within, say, a single species of wood. This is generally seen as an impediment to the large-scale roll out of biorefinery—meaning industrial operations designed to make a cascade of bio-based products such as biofuels, "green" chemicals or bio-based starting materials for products—since each biorefinery process may have to be adapted to biomass materials from a single source. This is especially true for lignocellulosic biomass, meaning biomass from wood or inedible parts of plants.

    Thus, knowledge about quick and easy ways to judge the properties of each type of biomass is high in demand. Bio4Energy postdoctoral fellow This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. has focused his research on such methods, in the pre-treatment step of the biomass intended for use in biorefinery processes. Using sophisticated X-ray fluorescence and near-infrared spectroscopy, he found that the two techniques may be used to gauge the amount of non-desirable ash-forming elements or contaminants and to single out wood chips for their content of value-added extractive substances, respectively.

    While the conclusions of Thyrel's work so far are based on testing on a laboratory scale, this has not stopped the Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry (KSLA) deeming it useful and novel enough to grant him an award for "best PhD thesis 2016" for the report in which he sums it all up:  Spectroscopic Characterisation of Lignocellulosic Biomass. Thyrel is to receive a diploma from the hands of the Swedish prince Carl Philip, 28 January in Stockholm and has received a personal grant.

    "As the [biorefinery] industry is trying to start up new methods are needed for the characterisation of biomass. Biomass is heterogeneous in nature. Especially targeted processes for producing chemicals are rather sensitive [to impurities in the biomass]. One batch of wood chips does not look the same as the other. We have to find a way to characterise them so that the polluting elements can be removed or handled", said Thyrel, who works at the Department of Forest Biomaterials and Technology of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.
  • Screening of active solid catalysts for esterification of tall oil fatty acids with methanol,

    Kocík J, Samikannu A, Bourajoini H, Ngoc Pham T, Mikkola J-P, Hájek M, Čapek L. 2016. Screening of active solid catalysts for esterification of tall oil fatty acids with methanol, Journal of Cleaner Production, Available online 22 September
  • Seminar on Bio-based Feedstock: 'Make No Mistake, There is Still Momentum for Building the Bioeconomy'

    Is the efficient and sustainable biorefinery of the future challenged by the low price of oil and gas and the lack of a political framework that encourages bio-based production in the long term? Yes. Have actors in the sector shut up shop while waiting for conditions to be right for launching the bioeconomy? Not at all.

    Judging from developments in Sweden, a precursor country in terms of biorefinery development based on woody materials and organic waste, great strides are being made in industry and academia to pave the way for a transition from an economy heavily reliant fossil fuels and materials based on petrochemicals, towards a bioeconomy. A few such developments were highlighted yesterday at a seminar at Umeå, in northern Sweden, on Feedstock for Sustainable Biofuel Production, by the Swedish Knowledge Centre for Renewable Transportation Fuels (f3 Centre), the research environment Bio4Energy and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

    Anders-Hultgren-SCA
    Bioen-100-yrs-FF
    Bioen-use-SE
    Constraints-drivers
    Future-FF
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    MagnusHertzberg_SweTreeTechnologies
    Phiip-Peck-LU
    SCA-prod-plans
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  • Seminar: Synthetic Biology and Bioengineering to Optimise Energy Crops, Umeå, Sweden

    Time: Thursday 6 October at 3 p.m.

    Plac: KB3B1 Stora hörsalen

    UPSC Seminar

    Speaker: Dominique Loqué Director of Cell Wall Engineering at the Joint BioEnergy Institute, UC Berkeley, CA, USA

    Title: Synthetic Biology and Bioengineering to Optimize Energy Crops

    Host: Totte Niittylä, Bio4Energy Feedstock

  • Study of Emissions from Biodiesel Exhaust Reveals Need for Investigation of Effects of Fine Particulate Matter

    RN CB ems filter 30117Robin Nyström (left) and Christoffer Boman of Bio4Energy are checking the soot content of diesel exhaust by analysing what got caught in an emission filter. Photo by Bio4Energy.Despite the European Union transport target for its 28 countries to reach a ten per cent share of renewable energy in the overall fuel mix by 2020—and estimates by consultants CE Delft and TNO in a 2013 study ordered by the European Commission, showing that biodiesel will contribute 6.6 per cent the target—there is only relatively little science available on how best to assess emissions from biodiesel combustion, and notably of the part that is particulate matter, for the results to be relevant for human health and the environment.

    Domestic wood burning and combustion of diesel fuel in automotive engines are considered to be the two main sources of emissions of particulate matter globally. Whether these latter impact negatively on human health depends on the size, shape and composition of the particles, as well as how well the body of a person who is exposed to such emissions is able to resist their impact, for how long the exposure goes on and with which intensity. According to the authors of a 2015 Review of the Health Impact of Airborne Particulate Matter, published in Environment International, "small" particles of concern include inhalable coarse particles with a diameter of 2.5 to 10 micrometre (μm) and fine particles smaller than 2.5 μm in diameter.

    Biodiesel vs standard diesel RobinNystromTo complicate matters further, the authors of Bringing Biofuels on the Market point out that: “Raising the blending limits for biodiesel is more difficult because of the more complex diesel emission control technology and the possible presence of impurities in biodiesel. For most passenger car manufacturers substantial time would be needed to adapt the regeneration strategy for diesel particulate filters to the higher biodiesel blend”.

     The research environment Bio4Energy of Sweden has a team of scientists dedicated to delivering knowledge on the properties of particulate matter formed as a result of biofuel combustion. The researchers collaborate closely with colleagues at Northern Sweden’s largest hospital, the University Hospital of Umeå, to map the effects on human health of exposure to biofuel, and notably biodiesel emissions. In fact, last month PhD student This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. of the Bio4Energy team presented an encompassing package of work on Particle Emissions from Residential Wood and Biodiesel Combustion.
  • Swedish Centre for Biomass Gasification Gets Four More Years

    JoakimLundgren Photo by AlanSherrardJoakim Lundgren gives a talk at a 2016 seminar by the Swedish Centre for Biomass Gasification. Photo by Alan Sherrard, Bioenergy International.The Swedish Centre for Biomass Gasification(SFC)—launched in 2011 to provide coordination of Sweden-based efforts to develop gasification of biomass into a viable alternative to fossil energy carriers—looks set to continue its operations for four more years. The much-awaited announcement came as a the Swedish Energy Agency confirmed its decision in a press release to provide provisional funding for another programme period, from 20 April 2017 to 19 April 2021. 

    “The decision is wonderful news. We are so happy. We have achieved a lot in a short time, six years; and now we can build on it, provide an edge to the technology, according to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. who directs the centre since 2014.

    Gasification of biomass, in which lignocellulosic feedstock is turned into synthesis gas and then converted to liquid biofuel or electricity, is taken to be one of the cleanest and most technology-ready options when it comes to renewable alternatives to fossil energy carriers. According to estimates outlined in a government-commissioned package of reports from 2013, one in three cars travelling on Swedish roads could be running on the new fuels in 2030. These could be renewable dimethyl ether, methanol, methane or synthetic diesel.
  • Swedish Government Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation Visits Bio4Energy, Umeå, Sweden

  • Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

    Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Umeå, Sweden
  • Symposium on Biotechnology for Fuels and Chemicals, Baltimore, MD, U.S.A.

    38th SBFC (Symposium on Biotechnology for Fuels and Chemicals), April 25-28, 2016, Baltimore, MD. http://www.simbhq.org/sbfc/  
  • System Analysis Needed for Pointing Politicians, Scientists, in Right Direction on Energy

    Ibrahim Balyan SAEE 2016Sweden's energy minister Ibrahim Baylan told a conference that academic input had been vital for the government's recent Energy Agreement with opposition parties to go through. Photo by courtesy of the Luleå University of Technology.

    A conference by Bio4Energyresearchers and colleagues on the transformation of Sweden's energy system finished at Luleå last week, with keynote speaker Ibrahim Baylan, the Swedish energy minister, concluding that the recent Energy Agreement struck by the government and parties in political opposition before the summer recess hardly had been possible had the government not consulted widely with academic stakeholders.

    "He spoke about the Energy Agreement, but included a discussion on the need for research as a basis for political decision-making", said conference coordinator This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., who represents Bio4Energy's System Analysis and Bioeconomy branch.

    The agreement between the ruling Social Democrats and Greens, and the Moderate Party, Christian Democrats and Centre Party in opposition, states that Sweden aims for its economy to have zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045 and for its electrical power production system to be "100 per cent renewable" by 2040.

    The 23-24 August conference, hosted by the Swedish Association for Energy Economics and the Luleå University of Technology (LTU), also heard energy profile Tomas Kåberger, professor at the Chalmers University of Technology, contribute a global perspective and, notably, talking up solar energy as having a great potential of increasing the share of renewables in the overall energy mix. He had pointed to the example of how Germany has kept subsidising solar power installations and how, subsequently, solar panels have become mainstay on German rooftops, according to professor Lundmark.

  • Systems' Perspectives on Bioresources

    Bio4Energy studentsltu AnnaStromExtent and credits: 7.5 ECTS             


    Course coordinator: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 


    Objectives

    On completion of the course, students will:

    • Be able to understand how to apply a systems' perspective on their own research;

    • Have gained insights into the current global energy and environmental challenges; 

    • Have gained insights into the rational of sustainability; 

    • Have awareness of tools and methods used for environmental, technical and economic systems analysis. 

    Dates and locations

    Autumn 2017:

    9-13 October, Luleå, Sweden: Lectures and workshops;

    Followed by independent work on a project assignment.


    Contents

    The course consists of:

    • Lectures (on sustainability issues, systems analysis approaches and tools) and workshops;

    • Lectures on essential subjects for large-scale biorefinery or bioenergy research and;

    • A project assignment, where the students identify suitable systems analysis tools or methods to be applied to their own research. The outcome will be a draft research proposal, a journal or conference manuscript or a chapter of a thesis.

    Application and prerequisites

    To apply for enrolment in Biorefinery Pilot Research, mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

    For enquiries regarding the course content, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    Late application? Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
  • Techno-economic evaluation of conditioning with sodium sulfite for bioethanol production from softwood

    Cavka A, Martín C, Alriksson B, Mörtsell M, J. Jönsson LJ. 2015. Techno-economic evaluation of conditioning with sodium sulfite for bioethanol production from softwood. Bioresource Technology, 196 (November), 129-135
  • Thermal Treatment of Sludge Could Boost Phosphorus Resources, Solve Waste Problem

    MarcusOhman 2916rsBio4Energy vice programme manager Marcus Öhman will develop a new efficient method for phosphorous recovery from waste sludge, together with colleagues in Bio4Energy. Photo by courtesy of Marcus Öhman.

    Bio4Energy researchers are developing a new efficient method for phosphorus recovery using thermal treatment of sludge from municipal waste treatment facilities or pulp and paper operations. Once implemented, the scheme is expected to provide for a reduction of the risk of contamination of food and feed crops by heavy metals—as well as reduce the problem of how to dispose of toxic waste sludge—and produce an economic benefit for industry. Research leader This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. said that the technology could be ready for industrial uptake within a decade.

    "We could be at the stage of industrial demonstration of the technology in five years. Then a certain amount of time would be needed for classification of the product. We know that it would be economically beneficial for some [existing] bioenergy operations which use fluid-bed technology to start co-firing dried sludge with [fuel wood]", according to Öhman, who is a professor in Energy Engineering at the Luleå University of Technology(LTU).

    The research and development project, which is the fruit of collaboration between Bio4Energy researchers at LTU and Umeå University, has been several years in the making. Now it can go ahead thanks to a recently announced multiannual grant from the Swedish Research Council Formas.

    Phosphorus is an essential nutrient for plant growth and thus for food production. It is extracted by mining in a handful of countries worldwide and its maximum production is expected to peak in the year 2030. After that predictions range from 50 to several hundred years before it runs out. Research is ongoing on a handful of methods for recycling the mineral from sludge, but which either perform inadequately (when it comes to removal of toxic heavy metals present in sludge or to phosphorus recovery rates) or are inhibitively expensive, to believe Öhman.

  • Thermal Treatment to Be Tested for Turning Waste to Resource on Space Trip - Video, Audio

    A Bio4Energy scientist at Umeå University (UmU) has won funds for conducting research that will feed into a Trash to Gas initiative started in 2012 by the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and which will be stepped up in connection with the preparations of NASA astronauts' first-ever manned trip to the planet Mars in the 2030s. The trip to outer space is longer and further from Earth than any of NASA's previous manned trips and implies new challenges when it comes to handling and disposal of waste such as used garments and towels, spent food packaging, human waste and paper products. Notably, whatever is leftover cannot be smelly, nor bulky and, ideally, should be recycled for re-use.

    Researchers at NASA's Kennedy Space Center have built a prototype reactor
    designed to make something useful from the trash astronauts accumulate in space.
    The device incinerates garbage to produce methane, oxygen and water--which can
    be used for rocket fuel, breathing air and for life support. Original video clip and
    report by George Diller posted on Youtube, 20 March 2013.
  • Thesis Defence: Exploring the Relevance of Uncertainty in the Life-cycle Assessment of Forest Products, Umeå, Sweden

    Thesis Defence by Frida Royne, Bio4Energy System Analysis and Bioeconomy, Umeå, Sweden

    Advisors: Mats Tysklind and Johanna Berlin, both Bio4Energy System Analysis and Bioeconomy

    Time and place: 10 a.m. at the Large Lecture Hall of the Chemical-biological Centre, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden.
  • Thesis defence: On dioxin formation in thermochemical conversion of biomass, Umeå, Sweden

    Qiuju Gao, kemiska institutionen, försvarar sin avhandling med svensk titel Bildning av dioxiner vid termokemisk omvandling av biomassa.

    Engelsk titel: On dioxin formation in thermochemical conversion of biomass.

    Fakultetsopponent: Bogdan Dlugogorski professor, School of Engineering and Information, Technology, Murdoch University.

    Huvudhandledare: Stina Jansson.

    2016-04-29 kl. 10:00
  • Thesis Defence: Processing of Continuous Fibers Based on Nanocellulose, Luleå, Sweden

    Saleh Hooshmand of the R&D platform Bio4Energy Biopolymers and Biochemical Conversion Technologies will be defending his PhD thesis Thursday 9  June 2016 from 10:00 in Room E632, Luleå University of Technology, Luleå, Sweden.

    His supervisors are professors Kristiina Oksman and Aji Mathew of the same platform.

    Opponent is professor Stephen Eichhorn, University of Exeter in the United Kingdom.