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FSh CM ShX LA andreaspalmen SLUProject owners Feng Chen, second from left, is next to Carlos Martín, Shaojun Xiong and Lars Atterhem at the Sustainable Innovations' Award ceremony. Photo by Andreas Palmén, SLU.Researchers at Bio4Energy have won yet another award for their groundbreaking project on joint production of edible mushroom and ethanol biofuel.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and student researcher Feng Chen this month accepted flowers, a diploma and a SEK50,000 (EUR4,954) cash award from the newly instated SLU Umeå and Sparbanksstiftelsen Norrland's Award for Sustainable Innovations.

It is the second time this year that the project on joint production of biofuel and mushroom is acknowledged for being an innovation with great potential for industrial commercialisation. In May it hit the so-called 100 List for Sweden-based research projects that have the potential to create value for industry in a “not-too-distant” future, hosted by the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences.

Chinese lead researcher Xiong, affiliated with SLU Umeå, is the master mind behind the concept. 

Instead of having to rely on imports, he put forth to Bio4Energy and Swedish funding agencies, Sweden could become a net producer of its own protein-rich shiitake and oyster mushrooms, by having them grow on wood residue which is a plentiful resource in northern Sweden.

While growing, the mushroom would break down polymers in the wood in a way that rendered the extraction of cellulose for ethanol production easy, he said.

Five years later, Xiong and his colleagues, including Martín of Umeå University and the industrial partner Biosteam, the latter based at Skellefteå, have proven not only that the system works, but also that it can be made cost-competitive with similar methods for making ethanol biofuel. The focus is on bringing the system to industrial scale.

As far as the award goes, it has been newly instated by Bio4Energy partner Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), together with a special fund of the bank Sparbanksstiftelserna and its northern Sweden branch.

“By introducing an Innovation Award together with Sparbanksstiftelsen Norrland, SLU wants to contribute to an innovation-promoting culture that enables more of the university's collective knowledge to be transformed into useful innovations that can reach a market—and make a difference in society”, according to the website of SLU.

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