- Written by Anna Strom
Radio spot in Swedish by courtesy of Sveriges Radio P4 Västerbotten. Published with permission.
Radio spot in Finnish and Swedish by courtesy of Sveriges Radio Sisuradio. Published with permission.
Bio4Energy researchers and partners have placed on the market a new technology for making ”green” hydrocarbons—bio-based equivalents of fossil petrol, diesel and jet fuel—and which process can be operated within the space of a standard shipping container, by non-experts having received basic use instructions.
Despite its novelty—the World Intellectual Property Organisation granted the required patents in summer 2017—the technology based on catalysis and thermal conversion of biomass has attracted the attention of the German exchange in Stuttgart and been acknowledged at an event last month in Stockholm, designed to showcase business development in northern Sweden.
“Because the process also renders liquefied petroleum gas, which can be used in gas-to-power engines, it may be used to produce electricity. According to a rough estimate, one [container-size process] could supply 100 households in India with electrical power”, said Mikkola, who is a leading figure on the platform Bio4Energy Chemical Catalysis and Separation Technologies.
Currently, the technology takes the form of a process unit that can make 2.5 litres of biofuel per day. A container-scale unit would make up to 250 litres. Depending on the raw material and the process parameters chosen, the technology will produce renewable hydrocarbons with the same chemical structure as its petrochemical counterparts, from bio-based alcohols such as ethanol, butanol or isobutene made from forestry residues or other types of biomass. A further product of the process is purified water.
As such, the invention could be shipped almost anywhere in the world.
However, the partners—united in the Skellefteå-based company Eco Oil—are planning for the construction of a first commercial-scale production plant. Or, in fact, two: One for petrol and one for diesel, both classified as being 100 per cent biofuels.
Just as the European Union institutions are nearing a crescendo in their debate about the use of forest biomass for energy, the Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry (KSLA) seems to send a message in support for smart bioenergy in its 2018 Award for Best PhD Thesis.
Characterisation and Densification of Carbonised Lignocellulosic Biomass, published in 2016 by the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences at Umeå, is about just that. It investigates whether biomass from forestry residues or willow that has been pre-treated by various degrees of roasting, or torrefaction, can be turned into qualitative pellets.
However, he told Bio4Energy Communications, the process requires greater fine-tuning compared with pellet making based on untreated sawdust, which is usually the basis for making so-called white pellets.
“We have seen that it works, yes. The next step is the creation of a market for torrefied pellets. The problems related to the pelletisation process itself can be solved”, Rudolfsson said.
“We see Sylvia as Torbjörn's natural successor and are confident that she has both the necessary qualifications and will make a substantial contribution” as a platform leader, Boström added.
Since clinching her Bachelor of Science degree in Energy Engineering at Umeå University in 1999, Larsson has been working her way up the academic ladder as an affiliate of the SLU and winning her current title of associate professor in 2014. She manages a research group of two students and works closely with associate professor Torbjörn Lestander and researchers Mikael Thyrel, Mikko Mäkelä, Alejandro Grimm, Magnus Rudolfsson and David Agar; all members of Bio4Energy.
Bio4Energy wants to thank its researchers, students, industrial network and stakeholders for an exciting year of 2017. Eight years into it, we have a research environment in full bloom, with 220 researchers collaborating with each other and with a vast network of industrial actors. In terms of education and training, the Bio4Energy scientist are active as teachers across 18 academic programmes or graduate schools, according to the most recent Bio4Energy Annual Report.
In addition, Bio4Energy is a research partner in the Swedish Knowledge Centre for Renewable Transportation Fuels, BioInnovation and the Bio-based Industries’ Consortium. Last, but not least, joint work and outreach is ongoing between Bio4Energy and its strategic partners RISE Processum and Piteå Science Park/Bothnia Bioindustries Cluster.
Many thanks again to all of you.
|16-17 January||Workshop on Sustainable Biomass Handling, Pre-treatment & Processing||Umeå, Sweden||For industries in the sector and researcher in the academy and at research institutes. To the registration|
|26 February||Workshop on the Max IV Synchrotron: Use & Access||Umeå, Sweden||For Bio4Energy researchers and colleagues at the Bio4Energy member organisations|
|22 May||Workshop on LCA on Bio-based Processes and Products||Piteå, Sweden||For Bio4Energy researchers and students|
|21-22 May||Bio4Energy Spring 2018 Researchers’ Meeting||Piteå, Sweden||For Bio4Energy researchers and students|
In a medium-term perspective until 2030, biomass gasification would be the most cost-efficient option for rolling out advanced biofuel production on a large scale in Sweden, a new research report based on energy system modelling confirms. However, attached analysis of stakeholder advice shows, central actors in the sector have turned their backs on biofuel-making options that require large investments.
Instead, they appear to favour drop-in fuels made from bio-based hydrocarbons, which properties are similar to those of standard petrol and diesel and can be produced in existing oil refineries. Such advanced drop-ins are being made on a pilot scale by Bio4Energy member RISE Energy Technology Center at Piteå, Sweden and their partner Suncarbon. So-called de-polymerisation of the wood polymer lignin could be a basis for this type of process.
The report, ending a project called BeWhere - Stakeholder analysis of biofuel production in Sweden, is based on an international energy system model called BeWhere, but which has been adapted to national conditions.
Have you ever wondered what artificial intelligence is and how it can be used in research and development on bio-based technologies? Or what the cost would be replacing the use of fossil fuel-based petrol and diesel with renewable methanol as a transport fuel in Sweden? Bio4Energy is publishing some clues below, contained in presentations given at the most recent Bio4Energy Researchers’ Meeting, which is a biannual event where researchers, students and technicians who are members of the research environment meet and trade notes on their latest progress. This autumn, they met 15 November for a seminar at Skellefteå, Sweden.
Årets framsteg inom forskning och teknik 2017 from IVA on Vimeo. Bio4Energy results on a new catalyst for large-scale hydrogen production part of IVA president speech on Best Research of 2017. Video published with permission.