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Sylvia Larsson Bio4Energy©2021Bio4Energy platform leader Sylvia Larsson and her postdoctoral student Glaydson Simões share a joke during their work, at the Biomass Technology Centre at Umeå, Sweden. Photo by courtesy of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. A Bio4Energy leader—and a recent professor—wants to give young people tools with which to change the world, moving to a bioeconomy from an economy dependent on materials and fuels based on petrochemicals.

A professor at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences since this month, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. has been a platform leader in the research environment Bio4Energy since 2018. This means she is responsible for research and development on wood pre-processing, in the context of making renewable materials and fuels. Larsson is also the chief coordinator for the Bio4Energy Graduate School on the Innovative Use of Biomass.

“I want to capture the commitment of young people to transform [what I perceive to be] the generalised feeling of hopelessness... in the face of climate change. We want to start from the idea of a future society in which the use of fossilised resources is minimal. And to create training that will give students tools to help shape the future,” she said.

The work of the Bio4Energy platform Larsson leads rests on two legs. In terms of biorefinery—meaning the concept of making chemicals, fuels and materials from bio-based starting materials—her platform tackles the need to make these latter more like fossilised resources. Bio-based feedstock like wood is heterogenous, meaning that its composition varies greatly. Larsson’s platform, Bio4Energy Wood Pre-processing, adapts the woody materials to specific processes. She refers to this as the “problem-solving” leg of the work of the platform.

“We want to ensure that industry can transition from fossil raw materials, without it being too difficult. For instance, a bio-based material can be difficult to store and use. We want to solve these problems”, Larsson said.

The second leg is about exploring new uses of bio-based materials. In many areas of research, this is precisely the way in which, by trial and error, great scientific discoveries are made by finding new ways of using known resources. 

“This is a quest for finding new uses for existing materials”, she said.

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