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FCh XSh CMM Bio4Energy 170521From left: Feng Chen, Shaojun Xiong and Carlos Martín are doing research to make joint production of mushroom and biofuel commercially feasible. Photo published with permission.An innovative project started by funds from Bio4Energy—on developing joint production of edible mushroom and biofuel—is being recognised by the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences (IVA) for its potential to create value for industry in a “not-too-distant” future.

For the third year running, the IVA has selected 100 innovative research projects that have potential for industrial scale up, this year with a focus on making Sweden and its economy resilient in times of crisis.

“I think they appreciated our innovation—making two products together in an economical way—letting the fungi do the work”, said project leader This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.

“The purpose is to convert the scientific part to future commercial use, I guess”, he added.

The concept of growing edible mushroom, such as shiitake or oyster mushroom, on wood originates from East Asia. The idea is to obtain commercial amounts of edible mushroom, a protein-rich source of food, while at the same time obtaining a suitable input material for making biofuel. If the growth conditions are right, the mushroom will not only thrive, but also break down a main polymer in the wood called lignin. This means that another well-known tree polymer—cellulose—can more easily be extracted and turned into ethanol biofuel.

While the original process is highly energy consuming, the Sweden-based researchers have found a way around this. They invented a new way of pre-treating the wood and put in place the conditions for making it large scale. The Swedish funder BioInnovation financed this crucial step of developing the technology.

Thanks to freshly gained funds from the Swedish Board of Agriculture, the research team and their industrial partner BioSteam are able to concentrate on bringing the process to scale.

“Our industrial partners are developing a robotic system for the farming of the mushroom and on the research side we are waiting for new… growing containers [to arrive] and moving into a new research laboratory”, Xiong said.

Xiong is a researcher on the platform Bio4Energy Wood Pre-processing and has teamed up with This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. of Bio4Energy Biopolymers and Biochemical Conversion Technologies to develop this seemingly far-fetched but highly promising technology. Student researcher Feng Cheng works across the two platforms and has been instrumental in writing up the scientific articles detailing the innovation.

While being awarded a place on the IVA 100 List does not come with a monetary grant, it is a prestigious acknowledgement of having been selected as one of the most promising Sweden-based research projects for commercialisation by industry, for the benefit of the economy and society.

“Someway your work is recognised”, Xiong said.

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