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New Projects to Map Cost of Increasing Carbon 'Efficiency' of Advanced Biofuels

Bio4EnergyArlanda SE AnnaStrom2020Some of the feedstock that goes into bio-based jet fuel products being developed goes to waste already in the production process. Bio4Energy researchers have set out to find out how much and what can be done about it. Photo by Bio4Energy. researchers are launching the second in a series of projects, to map the extent of the so-called carbon efficiency of advanced biofuels and calculate the cost of efficiency improvements. In this context, carbon efficiency is a measure of the extent to which the carbon in the bio-based starting material, or feedstock, ends up in the final energy product.

Whereas the first project looks at a number of routes to produce biofuels for road transport, via specific value chains; the second is focussed on bio-based jet fuel technologies and resulting products.

According to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., researcher at RISE Research Institutes of Sweden; who leads the project on bio-based jet fuels; there is great variation in the carbon efficiency depending on the process route and technology.

Biomass gasification employing Fischer–Tropsch technology and alcohols-to-jet, respectively, were two relevant tracks considered in this project in terms of using wood-based feedstock for jet fuel production in the short term, he explained.

Read more: New Projects to Map Cost of Increasing Carbon 'Efficiency' of Advanced Biofuels

Bio4Energy-funded Projects Promoting Excellence, Collaboration Focus of Event

Audience 210518 2 420Twice a year, the Bio4Energy scientists meet as a group to exchange ideas. Photo by Bio4Energy (archives).Bio4Energy offers its scientists the possibility to apply for so-called Strategic Funds to finance projects on new lines of research that are likely to advance the frontiers of science. The projects also have to promote collaboration between researchers from different disciplines or organisations; including universities, institutes and industry tied to the research environment.

Today’s Bio4Energy Researchers’ Meeting, a biannual event for the research programme within the environment, learnt about projects enabled by those funds.

Five Projects Granted Bio4Energy Scientists by Prestigious Swedish Research Council

The prestigious Swedish Research Council has granted no less than five new fundamental science projects led by Bio4Energy researchers, in its annual round of funding in Science and Technology.

  • Watching the death of carbon nanoparticles by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Bio4Energy Thermochemical Conversion Technologies at RISE Energy Technology Centre.
  • Mechanics and dynamics of cell-to-cell adhesion in plants by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Bio4Energy Feedstock at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.
  • Cell-type specific lignification in plant vasculature by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Bio4Energy Feedstock at Umeå University.
  • Multi-scale studies of aqueous neoteric liquids—ionic liquids and deep eutectic solvents by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Bio4Energy System Analysis and Bioeconomy at the Luleå University of Technology.
  • Enzymatic modification of lignin by oxidoreductases from wood-degraded fungi by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Bio4Energy Biopolymers and Biochemical Conversion Technologies at Umeå University.

Opportunity for Pulp Mill Operators to Make Climate-efficient 'Drop-in' Biofuels while Increasing Pulp Production Capacity

Collage Sodra Morrum2 220920From the operating sites of two of the project partners: the Södra Cell Mörrum pulp mill and a worker at the Smurfit Kappa paper mill (insert). Both operations are in Sweden. Photos by courtesy of Per Pixel and Caroline Lundmark, respectively. A new report designed to lay bare the potential for coupling pulp production with biofuel making from pulping residue, shows that there is a double benefit to be had in doing so for pulp mill operators.

First, production capacity could be increased at existing mills. Second, climate-efficient transport biofuel could be produced at a cost per energy unit that is on a par or better, compared with similar biofuels made from residues from forestry operations.

The new fuels would be so-called drop-in biofuels, which means that they are functional equivalents of their petroleum fuel counterparts and thus can be directly blended in with these latter at any ratio.

The researchers' report identifies two main technologies that would put the production cost of the biofuel at 80 euros per megawatt-hour (MWh) or about 65-to-75 euro cents per litre. It is the result of a collaboration project between Bio4Energy systems analysis researchers at the Luleå University of Technology (LTU) in Sweden, companies in the sector and researchers from the RISE Research Institutes of Sweden.

Read more: Opportunity for Pulp Mill Operators to Make Climate-efficient 'Drop-in' Biofuels while Increasing...

Prospects for Rollout of Poplar Plantations Investigated as Means to Increase Biofuel Production in Sweden

Collage Populus plantation Bio4Energy2020 400Populus plants at the researchers' field trial plantation in southern Sweden. Photos by courtesy of Henrik Böhlenius.Researchers in Bio4Energy and a partner will investigate the potential for a rollout in Sweden of plantations of fast-growing poplar trees—Populus trichocarpa in Latin—as a means to increase biomass production for making renewable automotive fuels from wood and woody residue.

While there is a great body of scientific literature to describe the trees and their properties in themselves, information on the economics and technical feasibility of doing so at a large scale is relatively scant, according to project leader This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., scientist at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU). Contrary to most of the other Bio4Energy scientists who are based in the Swedish north, he is in the southernmost part of the country, at Alnarp.

“We see a great potential for [rollout of] this type of plantation, along the lines of one million hectares that could be added to the current domestic production of bioenergy”, Böhlenius said.

Sweden would benefit from making more advanced biofuels—renewable fuels that do not compete with food production and meet high quality standards in terms of their greenhouse gas footprint—at an affordable cost.

Land is available, to believe official statistics. Roughly 400,000 hectares of agricultural land could be planted with poplar without jeopardsing food production. Another one-to-two million hectare of spruce tree plantations, sitting on former agricultural land, could be used to plant poplar or other fast-growing tree species. 

Read more: Prospects for Rollout of Poplar Plantations Investigated as Means to Increase Biofuel Production...

Bio4Energy Year of 2019

                               After the rain: Oak leaves drying in the sunshine. Photo by Anna Strom©2020. The year of 2019 were one of the most productive for the research environment Bio4Energy since the start in 2010. This included not only technical research and innovations, but also efforts were stepped up to check the feasibility of introducing those latter on the market, using system analysis.

The invention of entirely fossil-free green petrol and diesel received massive media attention that started at the first Bio4Energy press release in 2018 and continued throughout the year 2019 and into 2020.

A first-ever webinar series by Bio4Energy and partner programmes at Umeå University, Sweden, informed stakeholders around the world about the latest advances in R&D pertaining to Sustainable Cities and Circular Bioeconomy.

Finally, Bio4Energy prepared to change leadership, with a new management troika taking over the reins 1 January 2020. Efforts got off the ground to prepare for a possible third programme period of Bio4Energy.

Bio4Energy’s second five-year mandate is set to end 31 December 2020.

Attachments:
Download this file (Bio4Energy annual report 2019-published.pdf)Bio4Energy Annual Report 2019[ ]235 kB

Happy Summer from Bio4Energy

Bio4Energy bids its researchers, members of the Industrial Network, Board and Steering Group—as well as all stakeholders and followers—a happy summer; or winter if you are in the Southern Hemisphere.

While many of the Bio4Energy members are officially on summer holidays until mid-August, we can be contacted for urgent matters via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. throughout.

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The first half of 2020 has been like no other year, with events having to move online and important trips being cancelled. Despite this, the Bio4Energy members have adapted and kept working from their private homes or with safety precautions taken while carrying out essential laboratory duties.


Bio4Energy's management and communications would like to say thank you very much and to keep up the good work!


For now, the Autumn 2020 Bio4Energy Researchers' Meeting is planned to be an on-location event, 13-14 October at Skellefteå, Sweden.

Read more: Happy Summer from Bio4Energy

Field Trials Confirm Greater Bioethanol Yields Possible from Genetically Modified Trees

EwaMellerowicz field Credit E MellerowiczEwa Mellerowicz surveys a hybrid aspen plant at an early stage of field trials in Sweden. Photo by courtesy of Ewa Mellerowicz.Scientists in Bio4Energy and academic colleagues have shown in field trials that aspen trees that were genetically modified (GM) to render more input material for making biofuel from wood than their wildtype counterparts, are robust enough to grow at a real-life plantation. The researchers also found that they could extract more such glucose sugar, more easily, from the GM trees, compared with the wildtype.

This is the first time such results have been obtained outside of a research laboratory—that is outside of a greenhouse—according to research leader 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, Sweden.

“The glucose yield was 25 to 30 percent higher in the modified trees compared with the wildtype trees. This is a result obtained without pre-treatment so it means that [the modification helped to] decrease the recalcitrance of the wood and made the raw material easier to transform into sugar”, Mellerowicz told Bio4Energy Communications.

Mellerowicz is one of the principal investigators on the research and development platform Bio4Energy Feedstock and has been in charge of verifying laboratory results in experimental plantations, or field trials, since the start in 2014 at Våxtorp, Sweden. The scientists planted and monitored more than 600 GM hybrid aspen trees, but which had to be harvested on the early side because of the impact of severe drought conditions in the summer of 2018, when all of Europe experienced heat waves.

Read more: Field Trials Confirm Greater Bioethanol Yields Possible from Genetically Modified Trees

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