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...

'Natural' Choice of New Leader for Bio4Energy Wood Pre-processing

TL MT SL 11116Sylvia Larsson is a new leader for the research and development platform Bio4Energy Wood Pre-processing. She is pictured together with her platform colleagues Torbjörn Lestander (left) and Mikael Thyrel. Photo by Bio4Energy.Bio4Energy Wood Pre-processing has a new leader. As of 2018, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) at Umeå takes over the reins of Bio4Energy’s smallest research and development platform. Already an established research leader in Bio4Energy and head of the pilot facilities at the SLU Biomass Technology Centre (BTC), she is the management’s and the previous platform leader This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.preferred choice of successor.

“She has shown that she is a successful research leader with encompassing knowledge on the pre-treatment of biomass. [Since the launch of Bio4Energy] she has taken on the role as head of lab at BTC Röbäcksdalen and become an appreciated thought leader in the [Bio4Energy] Graduate School”, according to Bio4Energy’s programme manager This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

“We see Sylvia as Torbjörn's natural successor and are confident that she has both the necessary qualifications and will make a substantial contribution” as a platform leader, Boström added.

Since clinching her Bachelor of Science degree in Energy Engineering at Umeå University in 1999, Larsson has been working her way up the academic ladder as an affiliate of the SLU and winning her current title of associate professor in 2014. She manages a research group of two students and works closely with associate professor Torbjörn Lestander and researchers Mikael Thyrel, Mikko Mäkelä, Alejandro Grimm, Magnus Rudolfsson and David Agar; all members of Bio4Energy.

Read more: 'Natural' Choice of New Leader for Bio4Energy Wood Pre-processing

Season's Greeting from Bio4Energy

Photo by AnnaStrom2017 webCan't see the lake for the trees? It's there, but the sun sets early in winter in the Northern Hemisphere. Photo by AnnaStrom© 2017.

Bio4Energy wants to thank its researchers, students, industrial network and stakeholders for an exciting year of 2017. Eight years into it, we have a research environment in full bloom, with 220 researchers collaborating with each other and with a vast network of industrial actors. In terms of education and training, the Bio4Energy scientist are active as teachers across 18 academic programmes or graduate schools, according to the most recent Bio4Energy Annual Report.

In addition, Bio4Energy is a research partner in the Swedish Knowledge Centre for Renewable Transportation Fuels, BioInnovation and the Bio-based Industries’ Consortium. Last, but not least, joint work and outreach is ongoing between Bio4Energy and its strategic partners RISE Processum and Piteå Science Park/Bothnia Bioindustries Cluster.

Many thanks again to all of you.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year


We look forward to continuing the work with our partners in 2018


Bio4Energy Events in Spring 2018
16-17 January  Workshop on Sustainable Biomass Handling, Pre-treatment & Processing Umeå, Sweden For industries in the sector and researcher in the academy and at research institutes. To the registration
26 February Workshop on the Max IV Synchrotron: Use & Access Umeå, Sweden For Bio4Energy researchers and colleagues at the Bio4Energy member organisations
 22 May Workshop on LCA on Bio-based Processes and Products Piteå, Sweden For Bio4Energy researchers and students
23-24 May Bio4Energy Spring 2018 Researchers’ Meeting Piteå, Sweden For Bio4Energy researchers and students


 

Bio4Energy Researchers' Meeting: New Activities, Leaders

Have you ever wondered what artificial intelligence is and how it can be used in research and development on bio-based technologies? Or what the cost would be replacing the use of fossil fuel-based petrol and diesel with renewable methanol as a transport fuel in Sweden? Bio4Energy is publishing some clues below, contained in presentations given at the most recent Bio4Energy Researchers’ Meeting, which is a biannual event where researchers, students and technicians who are members of the research environment meet and trade notes on their latest progress. This autumn, they met 15 November for a seminar at Skellefteå, Sweden.

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Biofuel Making via Gasification Most Efficient, But Sector Prefers Drop-ins

BeWhere Sweden webBeWhere Sweden. Illustration by courtesy of Elisabeth Wetterlund, Bio4Energy and the Swedish Knowledge Centre for Renewable Transportation Fuels. In a medium-term perspective until 2030, biomass gasification would be the most cost-efficient option for rolling out advanced biofuel production on a large scale in Sweden, a new research report based on energy system modelling confirms. However, attached analysis of stakeholder advice shows, central actors in the sector have turned their backs on biofuel-making options that require large investments.

Instead, they appear to favour drop-in fuels made from bio-based hydrocarbons, which properties are similar to those of standard petrol and diesel and can be produced in existing oil refineries. Such advanced drop-ins are being made on a pilot scale by Bio4Energy member RISE Energy Technology Center at Piteå, Sweden and their partner Suncarbon. So-called de-polymerisation of the wood polymer lignin could be a basis for this type of process.

The report, ending a project called BeWhere - Stakeholder analysis of biofuel production in Sweden, is based on an international energy system model called BeWhere, but which has been adapted to national conditions.

Read more: Biofuel Making via Gasification Most Efficient, But Sector Prefers Drop-ins

Bio4Energy Results on Large-scale Hydrogen Production Part of IVA 'Progress in Research & Technology 2017' Speech - Video

In August, Bio4Energy researchers and partners unveiled a scheme that could enable large-scale production of hydrogen based on renewable electricity. This month, the director of the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences (IVA), Björn O. Nilsson, acknowledged it his annual speech Progress in Research and Technology 2017.

He did so approximately 25.15 minutes into the speech. We publish it here, with permission. Bio4Energy wants to thank Pär Rönnberg, writer at IVA, for coordinating contacts with us.

Årets framsteg inom forskning och teknik 2017 from IVA on Vimeo. Bio4Energy results on a new catalyst for large-scale hydrogen production part of IVA president speech on Best Research of 2017. Video published with permission.

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 Council announced 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.

Read more: Projects on Next Generation Bio-based Materials, Processes to Start Next Month

New Training Programme Available in 'Plant Biology for Sustainable Production'

Plant Biology Master SLUPlant Biology for Sustainable Production. Programme image by courtesy of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.Next year will see the start of a new training programme for students who hold a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and want to continue their education, to learn to develop sustainable food products or bio-based materials using plant biology.

Plant Biology—including plant protection, breeding and biotechnology—is much believed in as a science that carrying great promise for the development of sustainable food and fuels to meet current day societal challenges: Phasing out infinite and polluting fossil oil as a raw material for everyday products, while meeting the needs of world population expected to reach 9.8 billion in 2050.

The new Master’s degree programme—Plant Biology for Sustainable Production—will be given from September 2018 by the Bio4Energy partner Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), in a unique cooperation by its three campuses in northern, mid and southern Sweden. It is designed to prepare students either for a career in academic research, or in industry or the public sector.

The application opened this month to close mid-January 2018.

SLU senior lecturer This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., head of the R&D platform Bio4Energy Feedstock, leads a working group appointed to lay down the study plan and contents of the two-year programme, which includes the possibility from the second year to specialise in one of the following four strands:

  • Forest Biotechnology;

  • Plant Protection and Breeding for Mitigating Climate Change;

  • Abiotic and Biotic Interactions of Cultivated Plants;

  • Genetic and Molecular Plant Biology.

The Forest Biotechnology specialisation will be given at Umeå, Sweden, in cooperation with a leading research environment and a centre, respectively: Bio4Energy and the Umeå Plant Science Centre.

Read more: New Training Programme Available in 'Plant Biology for Sustainable Production'

National Programme 'Renewable Fuels and Systems' Set to Continue

JohannaMossberg CreditAnnaStromf3 Centre director Johanna Mossberg said the prolongation of the Renewable Fuels and Systems' programme meant its research results would be made more useful. Photo by Bio4Energy© 2017, archives.The Swedish national research programme Renewable Fuels and Systems is set to continue for four more years, the Swedish Energy Agency announced this week. In the four years since its inception, the programme—tasked with delivering fodder for science-based decision-making on systems' issues pertaining to renewable transport fuels—has delivered an extensive range of reports.

Coordinators are the Energy Agency itself and the Swedish Knowledge Centre for Renewable Transportation Fuels (f3 Centre), of which Bio4Energy is a founding member.

“We are happy about the extension of the programme. Now we can build on the research done to date and make it even more useful. Every part [of the work delivered] is important for spurring a transition to an energy system free of fossil fuels”, said f3 Centre director This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., member of the Bio4Energy Industrial Network.

While the future direction of research on the programme is yet to be unveiled, and a first call for project proposals launched at the turn of the year, the foci of the work during 2014-2017 could be an indication of what is to come:

  • Large-scale production of biofuels;
  • Geographical placement of production units, e.g. biorefineries;
  • Socioeconomic effects of using renewable feedstock in fuel making instead of petrochemicals.


Contribution by Bio4Energy and partners

Joakim Lundgren 314Joakim Lundgren represents Bio4Energy as a member of the Board of the Swedish Knowledge Centre for Renewable Transportation Fuels. Photo by courtesy of the LTU.To cap off the first programme period, the actors of the Renewable Fuels and Systems’ programme are inviting stakeholder to a conference 25 and 26 October, to share results from 29 projects. Bio4Energy researchers are part of seven of them:

  • Techno-economic analysis of bio methane production with novel upgrading technology - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Bio4Energy at the Luleå University of Technology

  • Methanol production via black liquor gasification with expanded raw material base - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Bio4Energy System Analysis and Bioeconomy, Luleå University of Technology

  • Environmental and socio-economic benefits from Swedish biofuel production - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Bio4Energy System Analysis and Bioeconomy, Luleå University of Technology

  • BeWhere - Stake-holder analysis of biofuel production in Sweden - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Bio4Energy System Analysis and Bioeconomy, Luleå University of Technology. More on the start of the BeWhere project here.

  • Long-term sustainability evaluation of fossil free fuels production concepts - Åsa Kastensson, previoulsy with Bio4Energy System Analysis and Bioeconomy, Luleå University of Technology

  • Methane as vehicle fuel - a gate-to-wheel study (METDRIV) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Bio4Energy System Analysis and Bioeconomy, Luleå University of Technology

  • Barriers to an increased utilisation of high biofuel blends in the Swedish vehicle fleet - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Bio4Energy System Analysis and Bioeconomy, Luleå University of Technology

Come to meet the programme participants, including Bio4Energy researchers and programme manager, at the 25-26 October conference at Uppsala, Sweden.

Registration is available here until 11 October.

Bio4Energy Graduates Who Move on to Industry: Danil Korelskiy to Beckers Group

DanilKorelskiy Beckers webDanil Korelskiy, a former Bio4Energy student specilising in membrane technology, has moved on to work with the multinational Beckers Group, at Beckers Industrial Coatings in Stockholm. Photo by courtesy of Danil Korelskiy.A number of Bio4Energy graduates—former students at the PhD or postdoctoral level—have moved on to work in industry at the end of their training. Some have gone to small- and medium-sized companies, such as SEKAB, or to larger companies or groups, like BillerudKorsnäs. Conversely, there are examples of PIs who have moved from employment at a commercial company to join the ranks of Bio4Energy researchers, or from the academy to join a research institute.

A shining example of the first is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., until recently with the research and development (R&D) platform Bio4Energy Chemical Catalysis and Separation Technologies at the Luleå University of Technology (LTU) in northern Sweden. This month, he took up employment with Beckers Industrial Coatings, as a Technical R&D Manager for Coil Coatings for North Europe. He is based at Stockholm, the Swedish capital.

With a background in Chemical Engineering, Russian-born Korelskiy has been specialising in membrane technology. The Beckers Group, for its part, say they lead the world when it comes to industrially-designed and pre-painted coatings applied to metal sheets and composite panels for roofs or domestic appliances, together with a handful of North American and Asian companies, according to the group's website and Korelskiy.

Read more: Bio4Energy Graduates Who Move on to Industry: Danil Korelskiy to Beckers Group

Scientific Articles




Characterisation and densification of carbonised lignocellulosic biomass. PhD thesis: Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, 61: 1652-6880, May

Innovation in the bioeconomy – Dynamics of biorefinery innovation networks. Technology Analysis and Strategic Management. E-pub ahead of print
Off-gassing from thermally treated lignocellulosic biomass. PhD thesis, 94 pp. Umeå universitet, Sweden. November
VOC off-gassing from pelletized steam exploded softwood bark: Emissions at different industrial process steps. Fuel Processing Technology, March