Latest from Bio4Energy on Biorefinery R&D: Catalysis & Separation, Pre-processing & Pre-treatment

The Bio4Energy researchers meet twice a year to share their latest progress. This time the focus was on chemical catalysis and separation technologies, as well as the pre-processing of woody biomass and organic waste intended as raw material for biorefinery processes. They met 16 October at Umeå, Sweden.

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Bio4Energy Scientists Make First-ever Bio-based Equivalent of Carbon Black from Pyrolysis Oil

Magnus Marklund B4E RISE ETCMagnus Marklund, CEO at RISE Energy Technology Center, shows a sample of the "green" Black Carbon developed by his team in Bio4Energy and at RISE. Bio4Energy© 2018. Scientists in Bio4Energy have succeeded in making a bio-based equivalent of Carbon Black, one of the most widely used carbon-based industrial chemicals. Carbon Black forms when certain heavy petroleum products are incompletely burned, and there is an established process for making Carbon Black from fossil oil products in the petrochemical industry. The International Agency for Research on Cancer states that this material, which takes the form of a colloid, could “possibly” induce cancer and cause respiratory problems in humans. 

To the best of the Bio4Energy scientists' knowledge, the "green" equivalent of Carbon Black they have made is the first ever to be developed from pyrolysis oil.

In fact, the researchers at RISE Energy Technology Centre (RISE ETC), at Piteå, Sweden—part of the platform Bio4Energy Thermochemical Conversion Technologies—used pyrolysis oil made from renewable solid biomass in a high-temperature process developed in-house.

In experiments mimicking the petrochemical industry’s main production process for making Carbon Black, they sprayed pyrolysis oil into a reactor at high temperatures and the resulting material—that is, the “green” Carbon Black—was separated from the gaseous stream at cooling.

Read more: Bio4Energy Scientists Make First-ever Bio-based Equivalent of Carbon Black from Pyrolysis Oil

Sweden Could Add Several Biorefineries without Great Increases in Price of Feedstock

RL EW L S BiorefineryRobert Lundmark and Elisabeth Wetterlund of Bio4Energy are two of the authors behind a new report saying that large-scale biorefinery operations could be added in Sweden without major increases in the price of wood. Photo by Ted Karlsson, Luleå University of Technology. A new review report named Large-Scale Implementation of Biorefineries says that biorefinery—operations for making advanced biofuels and “green” chemicals—can be rolled out on a large scale in Sweden without jeopardising the production of traditional wood products or bringing substantial increases in the cost of raw materials from the forest.

“These are interesting findings in that we see that there is scope in Sweden for adding new large-scale biorefineries”, said the study lead author, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. of Bio4Energy.

“We do not see that the price of feedstock would be forced upwards to any great extent”, he added.

Lundmark is one of Bio4Energy’s research leaders at the Luleå University of Technology (LTU) specialising in system analysis and bioeconomy and the report a review of a number of modelling studies designed to advise policy-makers and industrialists on options for, and implications of, expanding biorefinery production. The review study itself is a collaboration between Bio4Energy at the LTU, the International Institute for Applied System Analysis and RISE Research Institutes of Sweden.

Read more: Sweden Could Add Several Biorefineries without Great Increases in Price of Feedstock

‘Fantastic Possibility’ to Promote Northern Sweden as Centre of Excellence for Development of Biomass Innovations

FrancescoGentili Photo by AnnaStromFrancesco Gentili is the new coordinator for Bio4Energy's training course on the pilot and demonstration steps of biomass innovations. Photo by Bio4Energy.As of this year, Francesco Gentili coordinates Bio4Energy’s flagship course for student researchers and industry representatives on bringing biomass innovations to scale. Biorefinery Pilot Research is about to kick off in its third edition 27-29 August, with a first stop at the Bio4Energy partner RISE Energy Technology Center (RISE ETC) at Piteå.

Biorefinery Pilot Research is the first of two generic courses in the Bio4Energy Graduate School on the Innovative Use of Biomass. It is a model copy of the Bio4Energy Research Environment, with its unique access to research at the fundamental level and all the way up to demonstration of bio-based technologies on a near industrial scale.

A researcher at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences at Umeå, Gentili is an agronomist specialised in the production of algae in northern climates and its upscaling. Since spring 2018, he is a member of the research and development platform Bio4Energy Wood Pre-processing.

Gentili has been the driving spirit behind laboratory-scale research to cultivate microalgae for the use of feedstock in biofuels and “green” chemicals, and the subsequent setting afoot of pilot facilities at Umeå, Sweden, on the premises of a regional energy utility, Umeå Energi.

Read more: ‘Fantastic Possibility’ to Promote Northern Sweden as Centre of Excellence for Development of...

Happy Summer from Bio4Energy

Delsjon AnnaStrom2018 400Delsjon, Gothenburg in July. Photo by Anna Strom©2018.Bio4Energy wants to greet its researchers and partners—including the Industrial Network and stakeholders to the bio-based sector—and bid them happy summer. Or happy winter, if you are in the Southern Hemisphere. Thank you very much for your commitment.

Most of the Bio4Energy people are having a break until September, but not all.

August start for popular course on biorefinery pilots

Late August, Bio4Energy will be kicking off the third edition of its popular course for PhD and postdoctoral researchers: Biorefinery Pilot Research. It is one of two generic courses in the Bio4Energy Graduate School on the Innovative Use of Biomass.


The idea behind Biorefinery Pilot Research is to give students from the graduate level and up an overview of the pilot and demonstration facilities lining the coast of Sweden to the north and east. Those who take the course for credit will have the opportunity to apply what they learned to their own research. For instance, you may want to design a project where you scale up or scale down the technology you are working on, or to place it in the larger context of biorefinery development using wood or organic waste as a starting material. You will learn about tools for developing an innovation in the bio-based sector.


A first block of course starts 27 August 2018 at Piteå, Sweden, and the deadline for registration is 10 August. For more details go to the Biorefinery Pilot Research course page or view the course brochure (attached).

For Whom
  • PhD and postdoctoral researchers interested in biorefinery from wood or organic waste.
  • Industry representatives or members of the bio-based sectors wishing to gain or deepen their knowledge of bio-based innovation and pilot and demonstration facilities in northern Sweden designed for the purpose.

TV4 Nyheterna: Snart är bensinen grön

Note: Please open in Firefox to view this clip. Professor at Umeå University Jyri-Pekka Mikkola and his research team in Bio4Energy and Swedish firm Eco-Oil have invented biofuels that are chemical equivalents of standard petrol, diesel and jet fuel. The next step is to scale up production to commercial levels. Audio clip in Swedish by courtesy of TV4 Nyheterna.

Bio4Energy Researchers Launch New Technology for Making 'Green' Hydrocarbons

Green hydrocarbon pilot Photo by WilliamSiljeboBio4Energy researchers built a pilot unit to demonstrate a new technology for making 'green' hydrocarbons that has the capacity to deliver 250 litres of biofuel per day. Photo by William Siljebo, Bio4Energy© 2018.Bio4Energy researchers and partners have placed on the market a new technology for making ”green” hydrocarbons—bio-based equivalents of fossil petrol, diesel and jet fuel—and which process can be operated within the space of a standard shipping container, by non-experts having received basic use instructions.

Despite its novelty—the World Intellectual Property Organisation granted the required patents in summer 2017—the technology based on catalysis and thermal conversion of biomass has attracted the attention of the German exchange in Stuttgart and been acknowledged at an event last month in Stockholm, designed to showcase business development in northern Sweden.

“This is a disruptive technology. It does not have to be constructed on the scale of a [commercial] biorefinery. This application could be operated on behalf of a petrol station or a village”, according to lead researcher This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., professor at Umeå University.

“Because the process also renders liquefied petroleum gas, which can be used in gas-to-power engines, it may be used to produce electricity. According to a rough estimate, one [container-size process] could supply 100 households in India with electrical power”, said Mikkola, who is a leading figure on the platform Bio4Energy Chemical Catalysis and Separation Technologies.

Currently, the technology takes the form of a process unit that can make 250 litres of biofuel per day. Depending on the raw material and the process parameters chosen, the technology will produce renewable hydrocarbons with the same chemical structure as its petrochemical counterparts, from bio-based alcohols such as ethanol, butanol or isobutene made from forestry residues or other types of biomass. A further product of the process is purified water.

As such, the invention could be shipped almost anywhere in the world.

However, the partners—united in the Skellefteå-based company Eco-Oil—are planning for the construction of a first commercial-scale production plant. Or, in fact, two: One for petrol and one for diesel, both classified as being 100 per cent biofuels.

Read more: Bio4Energy Researchers Launch New Technology for Making 'Green' Hydrocarbons

In Search of Perfect Biomass Pellets: KSLA Award to Bio4Energy Researcher for Tackling ‘Critical Pitfalls’ in Production Process

MR KSLA AwardSunday, Bio4Energy researcher Magnus Rudolfsson received one of two 2018 KSLA Best PhD Thesis Award, from the Swedish marshal of the realm Svante Lindqvist. Photo by courtesy of KSLA.Just as the European Union institutions are nearing a crescendo in their debate about the use of forest biomass for energy, the Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry (KSLA) seems to send a message in support for smart bioenergy in its 2018 Award for Best PhD Thesis.

Characterisation and Densification of Carbonised Lignocellulosic Biomass, published in 2016 by the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences at Umeå, is about just that. It investigates whether biomass from forestry residues or willow that has been pre-treated by various degrees of roasting, or torrefaction, can be turned into qualitative pellets.

A good quality pellet—for subsequent use as fuel in combined heat and power production or biomass gasification to fuels and chemicals—is energy dense and easy to store and handle. And thesis author This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Bio4Energy researcher, has found that it is possible.

However, he told Bio4Energy Communications, the process requires greater fine-tuning compared with pellet making based on untreated sawdust, which is usually the basis for making so-called white pellets.

“We have seen that it works, yes. The next step is the creation of a market for torrefied pellets. The problems related to the pelletisation process itself can be solved”, Rudolfsson said.

Read more: In Search of Perfect Biomass Pellets: KSLA Award to Bio4Energy Researcher for Tackling ‘Critical...

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