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Latest Events

Symposium on Biotechnology for Fuels and Chemicals, San Diego, CA, U.S.A.
April 27, 2015 (08:00)
Leif Jönsson or Carlos Martín, Bio4Energy Biochemical Platform
Seminar on bio fibers for textiles: Skogen på catwalken, Borås, Sweden
April 27, 2015 (12:00)
SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden
International Conference on Renewable Energy Gas Technology, REGATEC, Barcelona, Spain
May 07, 2015 (09:00)
Jörgen Held, CEO, Renewable Energy Technology International;
BioInnovation General Assembly, Stockholm, Sweden
May 21, 2015 (All Day)
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Bio4Energy on Twitter

@Bio4Energy - No retweets here
#Umeå Renewable Energy Meeting 2015 har dragit igång! Systemanalys, samt biokemisk och termokemisk omvandling av biomassa avhandlas imorgon. 8:48 pm - 25 Mar 2015#
#The latest biorefinery research is on the menu at an international conference at Umeå, Sweden, this week:  6:20 pm - 23 Mar 2015#
#Progress has been made on the way to making biofuel from forestry residue a viable alternative to fossil fuels: 10:39 am - 6 Mar 2015#
#Vårens stora konferens i Umeå om förnybar energi har fokus på bioraffinaderi: forskning om hållbara biodrivmedel:  2:18 pm - 17 Feb 2015#     
#Swedish government minister for energy paid a visit to Umeå University and and Bio4Energy: … 5:26 pm - 25 Nov 2014#
#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

There is a successor to the Forest Chemistry project: Cowi forskar om hållbar eten,

UREM 2015: Toppforskare diskuterar förnybar energi vid Umeåkonferens, Nordisk Papperstidning & Biobusiness

Biofuel proteomics, Joint BioEnergy Institute

Research by SP ETC/Bio4Energy: High Efficiency Demonstrated in Biomass-to-'syngas' Experiments, Pulp & Paper

Bio4Energy strategic partner: SP Processum fick miljöpris av Landstinget Västernorrland, SP Processum

Bio4Energy Researchers Tackle Soot Agglomeration in Entrained-flow Gasification of Biomass Print E-mail
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Written by Anna Strom   
Monday, 19 January 2015 14:29

PEBG MM 115Bio4Energy researcher Kentaro Umeki won an award which funds should be used to perfect a new method for reducing soot agglomeration in biomass gasification reactors such as this. The Pressurised Entrained-flow Biomass Gasifier pictured is one of the pilot installations operated by Bio4Energy partner SP Energy Technology Centre at Piteå, Sweden, and owned by industrial actor IVAB. Photo by courtesy of Magnus Marklund.Researchers in Bio4Energy may be close to delivering one of the final 'missing link' pieces of scientific knowledge on gasification of biomass from woody residue at high temperatures. Doing so would pave the way for industry to start attempting a technology scale up for the purpose of making biofuel on a commercial level, according to the project leader.

The technology is known as entrained-flow gasification and, when applied to woody biomass residue or black liquor in the way it has been in Bio4Energy, has the advantage of producing a synthetic gas which is virtually free of impurities. This so-called syngas, in a second step, may be turned into biofuels (or energy carriers) such as methane, methanol, diesel or dimethyl ether.

A 2013 report on the potential of biofuels, part of a Swedish government investigation on a fossil-free transport fleet in Sweden, indicated that this type of biofuel production technology "can be competitive to fossil fuels [if] reasonable environmental policies" were put in place, such as a tax on emissions of carbon dioxide, the greenhouse reference gas.

However, whereas the high temperatures used in entrained-flow gasification ensure that tar formation is kept to a minimum during the conversion process, soot production inside the biomass reactor—the gasification chamber in which the syngas is made—is a remaining impediment to the smooth functioning of the technology, Bio4Energy scientists have said.

"Reducing the formation of soot is one the biggest issues because it affects the economic feasibility of the overall biofuel production system through both investment and operating cost… and reliability of the plant", said Kentaro Umeki, researcher in Bio4Energy at the Luleå University of Technology (LTU) and head of Bio4Gasification, one of three research nodes in the Swedish Centre for Biomass Gasification.

Fresh Funding for Tree Breeding Projects & Season Greetings from Bio4Energy Print E-mail
Written by Anna Strom   
Tuesday, 23 December 2014 01:47

Awards-1214To conclude 2014, Bio4Energy researchers Harry Wu (top left), Ewa Mellerowicz (centre), Jonas Hedlund (top right), Rainer Backman (left) and Paul Christakopoulos received grants to continue their innovate research on different aspects of biorefinery based on wood or organic waste. Photo collage by Anna Strom©. Pictures used with permission.On the Bio4Energy Feedstock Platform, two substantial projects—on the genetic modification of spruce for the production of new bio-based products and on forest production systems based on tailor-made trees, respectively—were awarded funds this month by the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research (SSF) under its 2014 call for proposals on Biological Production Systems.

The SSF explained in its motivation that "one… of the forest tree breeding projects…  is designed to modify spruce in a way that new bio-based products may be produced, all the while adapting the trees to future climate change and making them resistant to [decay brought about by] fungal growth. The second project involves modification of aspen trees [for them to be part of] a rapid-growth forest production system for the production of raw materials for 'green' chemicals and biofuels".

Professor Ewa Mellerowicz, Bio4Energy feedstock researcher in charge of the latter project, sent Communications an e-mail exuding delight and saying: "Nice Christmas present!" Her colleague at the Swedish University of Agricultural Science, professor Harry Wu, responsible for the spruce modification project, received the largest grant. Together the two projects brought home more than SEK50 million (€52.4 million).

So much for surprises in the month of December. The previous month, Bio4Energy projects on ash deposits in the thermal conversion of biomass, sound-driven biotechnology and defect-free, selective zeolite catalysts, won awards from the Swedish Research Council in its annual Science and Technology round of funding, with individual grants totalling about SEK4 million to be distributed over a four-year period.

Professors Rainer Backman, Paul Christakopoulos and Jonas Hedlund will be leading the three latter projects, respectively. While Backman of Umeå University is the leader of the Bio4Energy Thermochemical Platform, the other two are affiliated with the Luleå University of Technology, where  Christakopoulos is a PI on the Bio4Energy Biochemical Platform and Hedlund is the head of the Bio4Energy Catalysis and Separation Platform.

Bio4Energy wishes to congratulate all those involved in winning the awards described. To them and everyone else:

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year of 2015 from Bio4Energy!

Takeover Means Bio4Energy Partner ETC Becomes SP Energy Technology Centre Print E-mail
Written by Anna Strom   
Wednesday, 17 December 2014 16:41

ETC-at-PiteaResearchers and technicians at the newly renamed SP Energy Technology Centre have access to a substantial pilot park for developing new fuels based on woody biomass. Photo by courtesy of the SP Energy Technology Centre.The SP Swedish Technical Research Institute of Sweden is taking over the Bio4Energy partner Energy Technology Centre at Piteå, an 18-employee strong research foundation specialised in the thermal conversion of biomass to fuels and chemicals. The announcement came yesterday at a press conference at Piteå, in northern Sweden.

It comes less than two years after the SP, a large technical consultancy of more than 1,400 employees, acquired a 60 per cent share in the Bio4Energy strategic partner organisation SP Processum. A number of researchers from the three previously free-standing organisations are members of Bio4Energy.

"Discussions started just over a year ago on the initiative of the ETC Board. There had been interest from the SP as well. We were a strategic choice for them and will be part of their Bioeconomy [branch]", according to Magnus Marklund, acting head of the thus renamed SP Energy Technology Centre and part of several groups in Bio4Energy.

He said however that the ETC's new position as a subsidiary to the SP and part of the grouping RISE Technology Research Institutes of Sweden, would not mean any great changes in its profile or activities which have been focused on biofuel development based on woody feedstock.

"Our work [at the ETC] will continue in the same vein, but we will be [running our activities] in a better framework and be part of something larger, yet be independent enough", Marklund said.

Excellent Research by Bio4Energy Students: Flexible Carbon Foams, Polymers from Pulping by-product Print E-mail
User Rating: / 8
Written by Anna Strom   
Wednesday, 03 December 2014 19:07

One of Bio4Energy’s greatest assets is its students. This month, no less than five of them are either defending their PhD thesis or giving their licentiate lecture or mid-term PhD seminar. In this case, five seminars make for five lines of excellent research on:

  •        Development of carbon foams for use as electrodes or sorbents in water purification;
  •        Heterogeneous catalysis applied to a pulping by-product for the purpose of making bio-based polymers or biofuel compounds;
  •        Spectroscopic characterisation of lignocellulosic biomass;
  •        Lengthening of tree fibres by using nanofibres and nanocrystals, and;
  •        Characterisation of biomass mixed with waste and compound emissions.

Bio4Energy researchers have invented a carbon foam that will separate crude oil from water. Video by courtesy of Nature Publishing Group, Scientific Reports.

Flexible carbon foamsArticle published in the Scientific Reports’ series of the Nature Publishing Group

The study led by Bio4Energy researchers shows that the flexibility of carbon foams made from bio-based materials may be further increased by applying direct carbonisation to melamine foams. Melamine is a crystalline, slightly water-soluble solid, used chiefly in organic synthesis and in the manufacture of resins, especially melamine resins.

The added value of the foams invented by the Bio4Energy researchers, compared with those presently in use, is the former's ability to conduct electricity and the possibility for the foams to be synthesised in bulk quantities, according to the study led by Bio4Energy PhD student Tung Ngoc Pham and his supervisor, professor Jyri-Pekka Mikkola of Umeå University.

Thus, the researchers write in an article recently published in Scientific Reports, due to their light weight, high porosity, hydrophobicity and high adsorption capacity, such foams could find several applications as electrodes or sorbent materials in water purification;

"In this paper, we show that after the [high-temperature treatment by means of] pyrolysis and activation process, the carbon foam retains the open pore network of the precursor foam and remains mechanically flexible, and, furthermore, with a proper selection of suitable synthesis conditions, foams possessing a different hydrophobic/hydrophilic nature may be obtained".

Last Updated on Thursday, 05 February 2015 17:03
Swedish Energy Minster Expresses Concern about EU Attitude to Biofuels at Visit to Umeå, Bio4Energy Print E-mail
Written by Anna Strom   
Wednesday, 26 November 2014 17:53

Ibrahim-Bylan-visit By-MPNThe Swedish government minster for energy, Ibrahim Baylan (centre), on a recent visit Umeå University and Bio4Energy. He is flanked by Hans Lindberg, Municipality of Umeå (left), and Mikael Berglund of energy utility Umeå Energi. UmU scientist Linda Pommer, in the foreground, is showing them the Fornax BTX Torrefaction Pilot, built and operated by Bio4Energy researchers. Photo by Mattias Pettersson, Umeå University.This week the Swedish government minister for energy, the Social Democrat Ibrahim Baylan, told biorefinery researchers in northern Sweden that he was "concerned" about the general attitude of the European Union towards biofuels, and that he would try to make his colleagues in the EU see that forestry in northern Sweden was "not about deforestation". Baylan, who is an Umeå University alumnus, was on a visit to the biorefinery research environment Bio4Energy and the Centre for Environmental Resource Economics, both coordinated from Umeå University.

"I am concerned about the EU's attitude towards biofuels. It is marked by what has happened in many countries [in the form of] deforestation. This is not what happens here… Sixty per cent of the land area in Sweden made up of forests. We have to build that understanding [on the EU level]”, said the former Umeå University student turned minister in the recently appointed Social Democrat-led government shepherded by Stefan Löfven.

Baylan, however, did not only come to express his concern, but also to learn more about the research and development carried out by the researchers in northern Sweden he had come to visit.  

Hearing about the way in which Bio4Energy had paved the way for extensive collaboration between academic researchers at the three main universities in the region, as well as with research institutes and industrial companies, he said that this mirrored the "Umeå spirit of collaboration" and that the cluster would be a suitable example to showcase to EU colleagues when wanting to demonstrate that forestry in Sweden was carried out in accordance with principles of sustainability which, according to the EU's definition, should mean that equal weight is being given to environmental, economic and social considerations in a given undertaking.

"We can show them sustainable forestry" done the Swedish way, Baylan said.

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.

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