biofuels

  • A Biorefinery Research Environment

    tree_on_globeThe research environment Bio4Energy aims to create highly efficient and environmentally-sound biorefinery processes—including methods and tools for making products such as biofuels, "green" chemicals and new bio-based materials—which draw on biomass sourced from forests or organic waste as a raw material. 

    Raw materials, or "feedstock", should be used as completely and as efficiently as possible at all stages of the biorefinery value chain. This is taken to mean from the designing or planting of the first seed for growing a tree, through to the development of consumer products that can be commercialised and add value for their soundness in terms of economic, environmental and social impact. 

    Some of the things Bio4Energy aims to do differently are to use all parts of the tree and to recycle or recover by-products that typically go to waste in mainstream forestry operations. Some of the Bio4Energy scientists—there are more than 220 of them—are developing processes by which to turn such residual streams into energy, high-value specialty chemicals or other bio-based products.

    Research organisation

    At the core of Bio4Energy are two process platforms. They are Bio4Energy Thermochemical Conversion Technologiesand Bio4Energy Biopolymers and Biochemical Conversion Technologies. Researchers on the two research and development (R&D) platforms turn out new or improved processes for making advanced biofuels, such as dimethyl ether or second-generation bioethanol; new bio-based materials or "green" chemicals which, in turn, may be used as building blocks in bio-based products. These may be plastics or pharmaceuticals, coatings, liners, adhesives or a number of other things; all based on woody feedstock or organic waste as a raw material.

    The research environment Bio4Energy also has a team that studies and develops the woody feedstock. Simply put, researchers on the R&D platform Bio4Energy Feedstock, hosted by Umeå Plant Science Centre, make "better" trees. Since Bio4Energy is based in Scandinavia, a large part of which sits in the boreal belt, the foremost feedstock for the technology processes being developed derives from spruce and pine trees, or residue from industrial processes in which they are used, such as pulping. However, poplar or hybrid aspen trees are also being studied and the question put whether these tree species may be grown successfully on northern latitudes. A part of the Materials and Bioscience branch of the research institute RISE is part of the platform Bio4Energy Feedstock and has developed an encompassing database by which genetic data may be cross-read with data on mechanical characteristics of trees: the Bio4Energy Traits Database.

    The R&D platforms Bio4Energy Wood Pre-processing and Bio4Energy Chemical Catalysis and Separation Technologies, for their part, are there to facilitate the journey that the carbohydrate and aromatic content of the biomass must make for it to be converted to products, as well as a cost-competitive alternative to petrochemicals. Seemingly small inventions in these platforms may make all the difference in terms of the efficiency of the thermal or biochemical conversion of biomass to fuels or chemicals. The task then of the platform Bio4Energy System Analysis and Bioeconomyis to make sure various processes, such as in a biorefinery, function with maximal efficiency in terms of energy use and as a unit. In a biorefinery a number of processes and their stream of primary and side products have to function efficiently together. This is Bio4Energy's most recent R&D platform and its members also carry out integrated market analyses and environmental system analyses.

    Finally the task of the platform Bio4Energy Environment and Nutrient Recyclingis to check and make sure that the methods and tools being developed by the other six platforms have a low or no detrimental impact on the environment, with the aim of 'closing the loop' in terms of only inputting renewable raw materials and limiting noxious emissions to air, ground and water to a strict minimum. In the first programme period of Bio4Energy, 2010-2016, the platform's dual foci were placed on system analysis assessing mainly climate change-inducing emissions of bio-based processes, on the one hand, and on limiting organic emissions at source, on the other. In Bio4Energy's second programme period, 2017-2021, the perspective has been expanded to encompass resource efficiency along the value chain of biorefinery products and calculating the cost of various options for making sure biorefinery operations are sustainable.

    One vision, many partners

    A large number of industrial operators have endorsed Bio4Energy and are part of a Bio4Energy Industrial Network. The scientists cooperate with them to develop advanced biofuels, "green" chemicals or other bio-based products, such as new materials made using nanotechnology. Another strand of work focuses on eliminating noxious emission or undesirable residues from existing industrial processes. For instance, methods are being developed to convert biomass ashes and sludge into renewable energy, liming materials or low-polluting fertilizers. In some cases, high-temperature processes in combination with filters that capture particulate matter and heavy metals will be used to rid the biorefinery process of toxic organic compounds.

    Another promising line of research in Bio4Energy targets the capture and recycling of carbon dioxide (CO2), the international reference for greenhouse gases. New technologies for CO2capture and reuse that rely on catalytic conversion are being invented. When it comes to development, Bio4Energy researchers have realised inventions which has led to new pilot facilities being installed (just off the campus of the lead organisation Umeå University) for the pre-treatment of biomass by roasting (torrefaction), at a BTX Fornax facility. Two other groups have made ample use of Sweden's only demonstration unit for bioethanol production, the Biorefinery Demonstration Plantat Örnsköldsvik, Sweden. Yet others collaborate with Swedish pellet industry, characterising and modulating biomass materials at the Biomass Technology Centrewhich hosts pilot facilities for the separation and fractionation of biomass at SLU Röbäcksdalen, at Umeå, Sweden. Further north, at Piteå, Bio4Energy researchers are an integral part of a team tasked with trialling, perfecting and upscaling production of biofuels made via the gasification route. At the LTU Green Fuelscentre, "ultra" low-polluting dimethyl ether (or bioDME) fuel is made from a residual product of the pulping process, black liquor, using entrained-flow gasification technology. Part of the same industrial site, the RISE Energy Technology Center has facilities for optimising gasification and pyrolysis processes and serves as link between academia and industry.

    A research 'environment'

    Bio4Energy is not only a research programme, but also a research environment. At its core are three Swedish universities recognised as national leaders in education and research on bioenergy, biotechnology and forest management. They are Umeå University, Luleå University of Technologyand the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences at Umeå. A large number of Sweden-based firms and a handful of innovation and research institutes have signed up to become partners. Of these RISE (groups in the Materials and Bioscience and Bioeconomy branches, respectively) and the ETC Energy Technology Center are founding members of Bio4Energy. RISE Processum and Piteå Science Park, both of which organisations are close to or representing industry, are the Strategic Partners of Bio4Energy. Several other cooperation partners could be mentioned here.

    Moreover, scientific collaboration is underway with research organisations or groups in Europe as well as in the U.S.A., Australia, Canada, China, Korea, Japan, Russia, Taiwan, Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, South Africa and other countries. The Bio4Energy research programme is committed to the sustainable use of natural resources and aware of the European Union's efforts to combat climate change by lessening the reliance on fossil fuels and increasing the use of renewable energy. In particular, Bio4Energy works to align its practices on advice issued by the European Technology Platforms devoted to forests, plants and biofuels. Since early 2014, Bio4Energy is a member of the European Bio-based Industries' Consortium, which has seen the birth of a Bio-based Industries' Joint Undertaking (BBI JU) as a part of the European Union's Joint Technology Initiatives' process. In Sweden, the programme part of Bio4Energy is a member of BioInnovationa cross-sectoral programme designed to promote bio-based innovationand of the Swedish Centre for Renewable Transportation Fuels.

    Bio4Energy aims to be a driving force for innovation and thereby the creation of small and medium-sized enterprises. It has set up its own Graduate School on the Innovative Use of Biomass so as to provide post-secondary training for a new generation of academic researchers, to develop scientific expertise in bioenergy, bio-based chemicals and, as a separate strand, biotechnology. At Umeå University, a new undergraduate training programme was unveiled at the end of 2013 and is designed to train future engineers in Bioresource Technology.

    Bio4Energy was born in late 2009, when the Swedish government agreed to offer a constellation of 44 mostly Swedish biorefinery researchers its support for developing over five years a Strategic Research Environment, tasked with drawing together some of the best brains in bioenergy and biorefinery research and development, as well as create links and collaboration within the academic cluster and cooperation with industrial actors.

    The government's generous support, topped up with contributions from the member universities and external funds won as a result of it, have allowed Bio4Energy to expand from the initial 44 to 235 researchers*(in March 2014 - and hovering between 235 and 250 members in 2015), originating from a number of countries but affiliated with one or more of Bio4Energy's founding member organisations. In 2009, more than 20 industrial companies pledged their support for the creation of Bio4Energy by signing letters of endorsement.

    For more information: See Bio4Energy's Clean-Tech Article (available also from the drop-down menu of the 'Research' heading) or an article in Swedishby Umeå University Information Services. As of June 2015, Bio4Energy has its own news page in Swedish on the Umeå University website and a programme page on the Luleå University of Technology website.

    Press and mediaare most welcome to contact Bio4Energy Communications by e-mail to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by phone at: +46 90 786 5247 (weekdays).

    *In November 2017 Bio4Energy had approximately 220 researchers.

    --
    Hereunder is the standard sentence which researchers may put towards the end of their scientific articles to acknowledge or thank Bio4Energy for its support:

    We thank Bio4Energy, a Strategic Research Environment appointed by the Swedish government, for supporting this work.
    --

  • Advanced Biofuels 2017, Gothenburg, Sweden

  • Advanced Biofuels Symposium, Vancouver, Canada

  • Bio4Energy Graduate to Bioethanol Developer SEKAB

    WilfredVermerris MonicaNormark PhotobyAnnaStromMonica Normark, pictured at her thesis defence with Wilfred Vermerris, has taken up a position at Bio4Energy industrial partner SEKAB. Photo by Bio4Energy.Bio4Energy graduate and research engineer This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., previously with Bio4Energy’s group of experts on biochemical conversion technologies and industrial biotechnology, has scored a position with bioethanol developer SEKAB in northern Sweden, where she will be working to develop one of the company’s flagship inventions: the CelluAPP™.

    “Monica Normark will be a great asset in our work. The CelluAPP™ makes it possible for companies to turn residual materials into marketable products. It’s a win-win situation for business and the environment”, said SEKAB E-Technology head of biorefinery technology This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. in a press release.

    Normark’s previous professional home, professor This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.’s group at Umeå University and the R&D platform Bio4Energy Biopolymers and Biochemical Conversion Technologies, have a long history of cooperating with—including handing down new inventions and patents to—SEKAB, which small firm develops bioethanol and “green” chemicals at the Biorefinery Demonstration Plant of the Domsjö industrial cluster, Örnsköldsvik, and is part of the Bio4Energy Industrial Network.
  • Bio4Energy Thesis Defence: Mixed Fuels Composed of Household Waste Wood, Umeå, Sweden

  • Bio4Energy Thesis Defence: Particle emissions from residential wood and biodiesel combustion, Umeå, Sweden


  • Biofuel Region Seminar: Klimatsmarta transporter i city, Örnsköldsvik, Sweden

  • Biofuel Region: BioGac final seminar, Skellefteå, Sweden

  • Biofuels Report from 2013 Government Investigation Available in Short Form

    Forestry residues Photo by Anna StromPotential biofuel? A heap of forestry residue at recreational area on the outskirts of Gothenburg, Sweden. Photo by Anna Strom©.The report Sustainable Transportation Biofuels Today and in the Future—presented in 2013 as part of the Swedish government investigation on how to make road transport "independent" of fossil fuel use by 2030—has been released in a summary version.

    "We wanted to make a short and updated version that was more easily accessible and readable", said co-author This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. of the Bio4Energy System Analysis and Bioeconomy Platform. Lundgren, who is a professor at the Luleå University of Technology (LTU), drafted the summary together with colleagues at Lund University, the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) and the Swedish Knowledge Centre for Renewable Transportation Fuels (f3 Centre). 

    Compared with the full report, a few updates had been made regarding the estimate for future sustainable outtake of forestry residues as feedstock for biofuel production, Lundgren said. Moreover, the estimate for annual domestic biofuel production by 2030 had been lowered from 25-35 terawatt hours (TWh) to 22-32 TWh. This was because the estimate for future potential outtake of tree stumps had been reduced, he added.

    The Gothenburg-based f3 Centre published both the report and its summary.

    "f3 took the initiative [for us to draft] the summary because the report we wrote were a couple of hundred pages long. Not something people read in a coffee break, perhaps".

    Both papers are intended to guide researchers and decision-makers working to pave the way for ridding Sweden's transport fleet of its dependence on fossil fuels and meet the country's greenhouse gas reduction targets.
  • BioInnovation General Assembly, Stockholm, Sweden

    BioInnovation General Assembly, Stockholm, Sweden
  • Clean-burning Cookstoves, Technology for Local Electricity Production to Be Developed for Africa

    CB cookstoves GroupA project for Africa: Christoffer Boman and colleagues will develop a clean-burning cookstove and propose solutions for local electricity production via biomass gasification. Photos by courtesy of Christoffer Boman.Development of clean-burning technology for household cooking and medium-scale electricity production in Sub-Saharan Africa is the focus of a new multiannual project by Bio4Energy researchers in collaboration with African actors, the Swedish Environment Institute (SEI) and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.

    As the researchers acknowledge in an application for funds to the Swedish Research Council Formas, which has now been granted, almost one fifth of the world population still lacks access to electricity, according to the International Energy Agency. Moreover, indoor air pollution caused by biomass burning for cooking and heating either using poor appliances or simply building a fire indoors cause about two million deaths per year in Southeast Asia and Africa.

    While great strides have been made by high-profile initiatives such as the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, "many uncertainties still exist regarding the performance of different cooking solutions… [and] emissions from these systems and the relation to air pollution and health effects need to be better elucidated", according to the project application.
  • Conditioning with Reducing Agents Shown to Raise Yields in Advanced Biofuel Production

    CM slurry AS231115Carlos Martín and Bio4Energy colleagues have developed a one-step biomass conditioning-and-conversion process which could bring cost-efficiency to cellulosic ethanol production. Photo by Bio4Energy.Bio4Energy researchers have invented a process which could bring greater certainty of cost efficiency to industrial biorefineries that choose to base their operations on lignocellulosic input materials such as wood from spruce or pine trees.

    Currently the U.S.A. and Italy are among few countries in the world to host industrial biorefineries for the production of ethanol based on cellulose via the biochemical conversion route using industrial enzymes and yeast. However, these biorefineries mainly use agricultural residue as feedstock in their operations.

    While advanced bio-based production is seen as a great opportunity in several richly forested countries in the boreal belt, industrial operators there are up against a practical problem. A large part of the Canadian, Swedish and Finnish forest resource is made up of coniferous tree species whose woody composition is highly complex and requires harsh treatment before rendering its cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin components in separate parts, which is a requirement in most bio-based production. This harsh pre-treatment means toxic elements are left in the biomass slurry resulting from the process, whose impact must be reduced for efficiency to be achieved in the conversion step to fuels and chemicals.

  • EPNOE Polysaccharide Conference, Jena, Germany

    EPNOE International Polysaccharide Conference

    Who to contact

    Conventus Congressmanagement & Marketing GmbH Carl-Pulfrich-Straße 1 07745 Jena, Germany www.conventus.de

    Project team Ann-Kathrin Schulte Phone +49 3641 31 16-363 Fax +49 3641 31 16-243 

    Registration Mandy Wagner Phone +49 3641 31 16-160

    Abstracts Stefan Regge Phone +49 3641 31 16-161

  • European Biomass Conference & Exhibition, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

    During the conference, Bio4Energy researcher Carlos Martín will be giving a talk entitled, Evaluation of the potential of cassava stems for ethanol production.
  • Feedstock for Biofuel Production: Seminar 6 February at Umeå

    JLB4E RM Oct2016Joakim Lundgren, associate professor at the Luleå University of Technology, heads the R&D platform Bio4Energy System Analysis and Bioeconomy. Photo by Bio4Energy.Feedstock for sustainable biofuel production. That is what the industry and research community tell us they want more of, of kinds that are economically and environmentally sustainable, as well as socially acceptable. Notably, there have been calls for focusing research and development (R&D) efforts on developing new types of tailor-made feedstock, such as Bio4Energy’s feedstock researchers do when they try to design and experimentally grow hybrid aspen for the purpose of making biofuel or nanocellulose for the production of specific bio-based materials. Many of the Bio4Energy partner organisations are involved in this effort. 

    6 February 2017 some of them will gather at Umeå, Sweden for a seminar precisely on Feedstock for Sustainable Biofuel Production, set in a system analysis perspective and jointly organised the Swedish Centre for Renewable Transportation Fuels, Bio4Energy and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.

    Feedstock for Sustainable Biofuel Production

    — Feedstock Potentials, Climate Change Impact of Forestry and the Realisation of Forest Biorefinery 

     
    You are invited!

     Programme and registration

    Click the link above or go to the Bio4Energy Events' page
  • Gasification 2017, Helsinki, Finland

    ACI’s 6th Annual Gasification Summit, taking place on 15-16 March 2017 in Helsinki, Finland. The conference will comprise two days of formal presentations, interactive roundtable discussions and excellent networking opportunities. The event will be providing an ideal setting to convene with your peers to discuss both current operational & future planned gasification plants, end product markets, potential barriers & support policies as well as project economics & finance.

    Agenda Committee:
    • Thomas von Kossak, Shell
    • Alison Kerester, The Gasification And Syngas Technologies Council
    • Juhani Isaksson, Valmet
    • Reinhard Rauch, Bioenergy 2020+
    • Christiaan Van Der Meijden, Biomass Energy Engineering
    • Chris Higman, Higman Consulting GmbH
    • Silvio Arienti, Amec Foster Wheeler
    • Berend Vreugdenhil, ‎Innovation Manager Gasification, ECN
    Site Visit:

    Exclusive Lahti Energy’s Kymijärvi II power plant Site Visit – Tuesday 14th March 2017

    During the afternoon of 14th of March 2017 up to 40 conference attendees will receive a unique opportunity to visit Lahti Energy’s Kymijärvi II power plant. Kymijärvi II is the world’s first gasification plant that utilizes solid recovered fuel (SRF). At the 160 MW plant, waste-derived fuel is gasified, the gas is cooled down and cleaned, and the clean gas is then burned in the boiler.

    There is no extra charge to attend the site visit, but spaces are limited and allocated on a first come first served basis. Please register your attendance for the site visit when booking for the conference.
  • Green conversion of municipal solid wastes into fuels and chemicals

    Matsakas L, Gao Q, Jansson S, Rova U, Christakopoulos P. 2017. Green conversion of municipal solid wastes into fuels and chemicals. Electronic Journal of Biotechnology. 26:69-83, March
  • Improved Biofuel Production Key Theme in Bio4Energy's New Strategic Projects

    Bio4energy cmykFive research projects deemed capable of promoting the strategic development of Bio4Energy, and the type of research and development its members carry out, have been selected for funding in the Bio4Energy’s second programme period. The projects are deemed to be beyond state of the art and to propose a new direction of research within the field of biorefinery based on wood or organic waste. Their project leaders, representing four of the seven Bio4Energy Research and Development Platforms, will be outlining their respective projects at a conference 25 October at Umeå, Sweden. For more, see the Bio4Energy Newsletter of this autumn. Here we list the 2016 Bio4Energy Strategic Projects.

    • Process Improvements for Methanol Production via Catalytic Biomass Gasification
    • Developing Neoteric Ionic Liquids for Enhancing Biomass Gasification to Produce Purified Biosyngas
    • Supercapacitors and High-energy/density Electrodes Based on Carbon Nanofibers from Lignin and Biochar
    • Nanocellulose Membranes and Adsorbents for Gas Separations and Ultrafiltration
    • Recirculation of Wood Ash in Boreal Catchments, Role of Fe-organic Carbon Aggregates and Processes along the Soil Solution Flow Paths
  • Integrated Biogas, New Material Production Focus of New Project

    Forestry residue Photo by AnnaStromBio4Energy researchers will create processes for integrated biogas production from woody feedstock with lignin removal and re-use in different materials. Photo by Anna Strom.Bio4Energy scientists have set out to create a completely new biorefinery value chain, by marrying the production of methane biogas and bio coal based on the wood polymer lignin, in a multi-annual project run by researchers at Umeå University (UmU), Luleå University of Technology (LTU) and their industrial partners Erebia, Blatraden Miljötekniskt center and the forestry company Sveaskog. The Swedish Research Council Formas granted the project funds under its latest call for research proposals on Research for the Transition to a Bio-based Economy, announced last week.

    Projects by Bio4Energy researchers on the integration of power production with biorefinery operations and finding the best source of wood for the production of nanocellulose also were granted funds in the Bio-based Economy call.

    "We are so very happy to be able to carry out these projects. Ours could not have come about if it weren't for the contacts we have had through Bio4Energy and its Researchers' Meetings", said This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., vice programme manager in Bio4Energy and a group leader at the LTU.

    Professor Rova is part of the project Integrated Conversion of Forest Residues into Methane and Carbonised Bio-based Materials (INFORMAT). So are a number of other Bio4Energy researchers and together they will attempt to lay the foundation for a completely new value chain in biorefinery by integrating the production of methane biogas from wood and woody residue with lignin extraction and re-use. That is, the scientists will separate out the lignin part of the wood polymer complex at an early stage of the process and use it to make bio coal by subjecting the lignin fraction to high temperature treatment, using hydrothermal carbonisation technology.
  • International Conference on Renewable Resources & Biorefineries, Wroclaw, Poland

    13th International Conference on Renewable Resources & Biorefineries