If this turns out to be the case—if and when the proposed process and the technologies it relies on have been proven—Sweden could become a net producer of edible mushroom and rely less on imports, all the while making cost-competitive ethanol biofuel.
The appointment comes at a pivotal time, since Bio4Energy is coming up to the close of its second programme period in 2020. Its funder, the Swedish government, is expected to decide this year whether to renew the funding for Sweden’s Strategic Research Environments (SRE), of which Bio4Energy is one.
It will be up to the newly appointed threesome to lead Bio4Energy into the future.
“We hope that wise decisions will be made and that the SRE initiative is allowed to continue. We will have to await the arrival of political decision to know more about this”, said Jönsson, professor of Chemistry at UmU.
This team of system analysis researchers at Bio4Energy made the IVA 100 List for Sustainable Competitiveness 2020, with their scheme Developing Sustainability Metrics for Innovative Business. From left: Kavitha Shanmugam, Mats Tysklind, Krishna Upadhyayula and Dalia Abdelfattah.Bio4Energy’s work on developing sustainability metrics for innovative business has been acknowledged by the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences (IVA), on its 100 List for Sustainable Competitiveness 2020.
The scheme entails four steps, in which the system analysis researchers start by examining an innovation’s environmental and competitiveness credentials using life-cycle assessment and cost-benefit analysis and end by offering easy-to-use indicators, based on which investors can make their decision to invest or not.
The IVA 100 List for Sustainable Competitiveness 2020 highlights academic research that “has a bearing on sustainability, in technical or economics sciences, which can create value for business or society in terms of knowledge, processes, products or business development”.
“We published a [scientific article] in 2018 that talks about how to make the sustainable decision-making process easy—or rather the financial decision-making process easy—for investors, venture capitalists and industries, to bring right and sustainable technologies to the market”, said Upadhyayula, who is an assistant professor at UmU.
Whereas in the U.S. and Canada the use of SPEARS had been limited to the cleanup of well-known organic environmental toxins such as polycyclic chlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), Jansson said, the Swedish scientists would also attempt to use it to clean up a range of other toxic compounds and metals.
Until their ban in manufacture in the late 1970s, PCB chemicals were widely used and notably in paints and adhesives. Even though their manufacture stopped, said NASA Kennedy Space Center scientist Jackie Quinn, in a promotional video for SPEARS, PCBs are found ubiquitously throughout the globe. Classified as persistent organic pollutants, they are known to induce cancer.
The UmU scientists, however, will test not only whether SPEARS can be made to clean sediments in Sweden of PCBs and PAHs, but also whether it can remove polychlorinated dibenzodioxins and dibenzofurans, as well as metal-based substances or metals such as arsenic, methyl mercury or tributyltin.
To all the Bio4Energy researchers, the Bio4Energy Industrial Network, Bio4Energy Advisory Board, the Steering Group and Board, as well as all our followers, funders, colleagues in the sector and friends everywhere:
Thank you for all the hard work in 2019! Next year will be pivotal for Bio4Energy as we try win funding for a third programme period. Please keep spreading the message about the work we do to deliver world-class tools and methods for conducting sustainable and efficient biorefinery based on wood or organic waste: Advanced biofuels, "green" chemicals and smart bio-based materials.
Leif Jönsson and Carlos Martín Medina show the plaque and diploma their research group were awarded for the great interest shown by the research community in their scientific article on biomass inhibitors in wood biorefinery. Photo by InYung Sunwoo.
A team of Bio4Energy scientists and partners have been acknowledged at a prestigious conference for their work to reduce the effect of toxic substances in the pre-treatment of biomass destined for conversion to advanced biofuels made using yeast or microbes to turn wood polymers into fuels.
This made the editorial board of Bioresource Technology decide to award the researcher with a diploma and a plaque for their Highly Downloaded Article 2019.
“I think it helped that the review covered all three areas of pre-treatment, formation of inhibitors and strategies [designed to lessen] their effects”, Martín added, “and that the discussion included some new important inhibitors in terms of their effects. That is, compounds that form in small amounts, but which are very strong inhibitors”.
What uses of biomass should be preferred to minimise greenhouse gas emissions?
The first project is broad in scope and will require the researchers to use a number of system analysis models. The aim is to find out, starting from sustainably managed forests in Sweden, which type of use of the harvested biomass will maximise efficiency, in terms of using bioenergy instead of fossil fuels for the purpose of minimising greenhouse gas emissions. The findings will serve to guide decision-makers in their attempt to understand what mix of technologies to favour and, consequently, what support measures to propose.
“Understanding the climate impact of different forest biomass paths is paramount for the implementation of appropriate policy measures. The purpose of the project is to improve the effectiveness of reaching the climate targets by advancing our understanding of climate impacts of using biomass, especially trade-offs and interactions of climate effects between the biophysical and economical systems”, says the project grant application.