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LTU Green Fuels at Pitea SEBiofuel production at large-scale pilot operations at Piteå, Sweden will cease. Photo by courtesy of the Luleå University of Technology.

LTU Green Fuels at Piteå—Sweden's only large-scale pilot operations for the production of liquid biofuel from forestry residue—are going to cease its activities due to lack of funding, according to a press release issued by its owner, the Luleå University of Technology.

Despite the pilot plant's having delivered about 1000 tonnes of clean, bio-based dimethyl ether (DME) and methanol, and despite the product having been successfully trialled as fuel in commercial trucking operations by the car manufacturer Volvo, the Swedish Energy Agency had decided not to extend funding beyond the 100 million Swedish kroner it had granted for the past three years, the press release said. It appears that the current 17 employees at LTU Green Fuels will soon have to look around for other work.

"I think it's a shame that we have to discontinue the work at the plant but I am nevertheless hopeful that the technology [developed there] has a future. It has been thoroughly verified in our pilot plant", said This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., professor at the LTU and part of the research and development platform Bio4Energy Thermochemical Conversion Technologies.

In successive interviews since the start of Bio4Energy in 2010, he has been pointing out that for industry to take the step to commercialisation, a long-term and stable political framework is needed that is supportive of a large-scale roll out of second-generation or more advanced biofuels and co-products.

"I am convinced that, once the politicians have agreed long-term political instruments regarding renewable fuels, commercialisation [efforts] will accelerate in Sweden", Gebart said.

To give a snap shot of the technology development to date, he is coordinating a public seminar 10 May in Stockholm, entitled Automotive Fuels from the Forest via Biomass Gasification. The seminar is given jointly by the LTU, the SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden, the Swedish Energy Agency, the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences and the trade union Swedish Forest Industries.

Registration for the seminar is available here

Below is an audio clip from an interview with Rikard Gebart by Swedish public radio station P4 Norrbotten. Published with permission.

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