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WilfredVermerris MonicaNormark PhotobyAnnaStromMonica Normark, pictured at her thesis defence with Wilfred Vermerris, has taken up a position at Bio4Energy industrial partner SEKAB. Photo by Bio4Energy.Bio4Energy graduate and research engineer This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., previously with Bio4Energy’s group of experts on biochemical conversion technologies and industrial biotechnology, has scored a position with bioethanol developer SEKAB in northern Sweden, where she will be working to develop one of the company’s flagship inventions: the CelluAPP™.

“Monica Normark will be a great asset in our work. The CelluAPP™ makes it possible for companies to turn residual materials into marketable products. It’s a win-win situation for business and the environment”, said SEKAB E-Technology head of biorefinery technology This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. in a press release.

Normark’s previous professional home, professor This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.’s group at Umeå University and the R&D platform Bio4Energy Biopolymers and Biochemical Conversion Technologies, have a long history of cooperating with—including handing down new inventions and patents to—SEKAB, which small firm develops bioethanol and “green” chemicals at the Biorefinery Demonstration Plant of the Domsjö industrial cluster, Örnsköldsvik, and is part of the Bio4Energy Industrial Network.

Such new inventions are outlined in the PhD thesis Normark graduated with in October last year, Pre-treatment and enzymatic saccharification of lignocellulose: formation and effects of pseudolignin. New results on pre-processing of biomass by roasting (torrefaction), and a first study on pre-treatment and enzymatic breakdown of torrefied wood to carbohydrates, are part of it and the result of collaboration between several Bio4Energy research and development platforms.

It follows that, not only the employer, but the new employee, Normark—who has just taken up her position as project leader and development engineer at SEKAB E-Technology at the Domsjö cluster—expressed delight at the match.

“This is the job I really wanted. I believe in this: What we do is a step on the way towards a bioeconomy. It contains the same elements that I studied during my thesis work: Pre-treatment, enzymatic saccharification, the lignin track. The chemistry and the processes are the same, but the scale is much larger, it is demonstration scale", Normark said.

Apart from ethanol biofuel and bio-based chemicals, SEKAB has its eye on the development of a range of bio-based alternatives to frequent-use products based on petrochemicals, such as jet fuel, plastics, polymers such as kevlar (a synthetic fibre of high tensile strength used as a reinforcing agent in the manufacture of tyres and other rubber products) used in protective equipment, according to Normark.

“One of my first tasks is to act as a person responsible for requirement specification for running life-cycle analysis in a SEKAB project. This takes a network and theoretical and hands-on skills. I can manage this thanks to my training in the [Bio4Energy] Graduate School. This may not have been possible, had I not done the courses in the graduate school”.

Normark did her PhD at Umeå University, one of the Bio4Energy partner organisations, and graduated with a mention from the Bio4Energy Graduate School, after having completed its generic courses Biorefinery Pilot Research and Systems’ Perspectives on Bioresources.

Commenting on the appointment, her advisor throughout her PhD studies professor Jönsson, said:

“This shows that the education and training here is relevant in respect to what the industry is doing. We are always happy to see our graduates moving on to work at the companies”.

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