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Opportunity for Pulp Mill Operators to Make Climate-efficient 'Drop-in' Biofuels while Increasing Pulp Production Capacity

Collage Sodra Morrum2 220920From the operating sites of two of the project partners: the Södra Cell Mörrum pulp mill and a worker at the Smurfit Kappa paper mill (insert). Both operations are in Sweden. Photos by courtesy of Per Pixel and Caroline Lundmark, respectively. A new report designed to lay bare the potential for coupling pulp production with biofuel making from pulping residue, shows that there is a double benefit to be had in doing so for pulp mill operators.

First, production capacity could be increased at existing mills. Second, climate-efficient transport biofuel could be produced at a cost per energy unit that is on a par or better, compared with similar biofuels made from residues from forestry operations.

The new fuels would be so-called drop-in biofuels, which means that they are functional equivalents of their petroleum fuel counterparts and thus can be directly blended in with these latter at any ratio.

The researchers' report identifies two main technologies that would put the production cost of the biofuel at 80 euros per megawatt-hour (MWh) or about 65-to-75 euro cents per litre. It is the result of a collaboration project between Bio4Energy systems analysis researchers at the Luleå University of Technology (LTU) in Sweden, companies in the sector and researchers from the RISE Research Institutes of Sweden.

Read more: Opportunity for Pulp Mill Operators to Make Climate-efficient 'Drop-in' Biofuels while Increasing...

Prospects for Rollout of Poplar Plantations Investigated as Means to Increase Biofuel Production in Sweden

Collage Populus plantation Bio4Energy2020 400Populus plants at the researchers' field trial plantation in southern Sweden. Photos by courtesy of Henrik Böhlenius.Researchers in Bio4Energy and a partner will investigate the potential for a rollout in Sweden of plantations of fast-growing poplar trees—Populus trichocarpa in Latin—as a means to increase biomass production for making renewable automotive fuels from wood and woody residue.

While there is a great body of scientific literature to describe the trees and their properties in themselves, information on the economics and technical feasibility of doing so at a large scale is relatively scant, according to project leader This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., scientist at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU). Contrary to most of the other Bio4Energy scientists who are based in the Swedish north, he is in the southernmost part of the country, at Alnarp.

“We see a great potential for [rollout of] this type of plantation, along the lines of one million hectares that could be added to the current domestic production of bioenergy”, Böhlenius said.

Sweden would benefit from making more advanced biofuels—renewable fuels that do not compete with food production and meet high quality standards in terms of their greenhouse gas footprint—at an affordable cost.

Land is available, to believe official statistics. Roughly 400,000 hectares of agricultural land could be planted with poplar without jeopardsing food production. Another one-to-two million hectare of spruce tree plantations, sitting on former agricultural land, could be used to plant poplar or other fast-growing tree species. 

Read more: Prospects for Rollout of Poplar Plantations Investigated as Means to Increase Biofuel Production...

Bio4Energy Year of 2019

                               After the rain: Oak leaves drying in the sunshine. Photo by Anna Strom©2020. The year of 2019 were one of the most productive for the research environment Bio4Energy since the start in 2010. This included not only technical research and innovations, but also efforts were stepped up to check the feasibility of introducing those latter on the market, using system analysis.

The invention of entirely fossil-free green petrol and diesel received massive media attention that started at the first Bio4Energy press release in 2018 and continued throughout the year 2019 and into 2020.

A first-ever webinar series by Bio4Energy and partner programmes at Umeå University, Sweden, informed stakeholders around the world about the latest advances in R&D pertaining to Sustainable Cities and Circular Bioeconomy.

Finally, Bio4Energy prepared to change leadership, with a new management troika taking over the reins 1 January 2020. Efforts got off the ground to prepare for a possible third programme period of Bio4Energy.

Bio4Energy’s second five-year mandate is set to end 31 December 2020.

Attachments:
Download this file (Bio4Energy annual report 2019-published.pdf)Bio4Energy Annual Report 2019[ ]235 kB

Happy Summer from Bio4Energy

Bio4Energy bids its researchers, members of the Industrial Network, Board and Steering Group—as well as all stakeholders and followers—a happy summer; or winter if you are in the Southern Hemisphere.

While many of the Bio4Energy members are officially on summer holidays until mid-August, we can be contacted for urgent matters via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. throughout.

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The first half of 2020 has been like no other year, with events having to move online and important trips being cancelled. Despite this, the Bio4Energy members have adapted and kept working from their private homes or with safety precautions taken while carrying out essential laboratory duties.


Bio4Energy's management and communications would like to say thank you very much and to keep up the good work!


For now, the Autumn 2020 Bio4Energy Researchers' Meeting is planned to be an on-location event, 13-14 October at Skellefteå, Sweden.

Read more: Happy Summer from Bio4Energy

Field Trials Confirm Greater Bioethanol Yields Possible from Genetically Modified Trees

EwaMellerowicz field Credit E MellerowiczEwa Mellerowicz surveys a hybrid aspen plant at an early stage of field trials in Sweden. Photo by courtesy of Ewa Mellerowicz.Scientists in Bio4Energy and academic colleagues have shown in field trials that aspen trees that were genetically modified (GM) to render more input material for making biofuel from wood than their wildtype counterparts, are robust enough to grow at a real-life plantation. The researchers also found that they could extract more such glucose sugar, more easily, from the GM trees, compared with the wildtype.

This is the first time such results have been obtained outside of a research laboratory—that is outside of a greenhouse—according to research leader This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) at Umeå, Sweden.

“The glucose yield was 25 to 30 percent higher in the modified trees compared with the wildtype trees. This is a result obtained without pre-treatment so it means that [the modification helped to] decrease the recalcitrance of the wood and made the raw material easier to transform into sugar”, Mellerowicz told Bio4Energy Communications.

Mellerowicz is one of the principal investigators on the research and development platform Bio4Energy Feedstock and has been in charge of verifying laboratory results in experimental plantations, or field trials, since the start in 2014 at Våxtorp, Sweden. The scientists planted and monitored more than 600 GM hybrid aspen trees, but which had to be harvested on the early side because of the impact of severe drought conditions in the summer of 2018, when all of Europe experienced heat waves.

Read more: Field Trials Confirm Greater Bioethanol Yields Possible from Genetically Modified Trees

Progress by Bio4Energy's R&D Platforms Unveiled

Bio4Energy's researchers and students met online to share the latest progress by the seven Bio4Energy Research and Development (R&D) Platforms, as the 17 June Spring 2020 Bio4Energy Researchers' Meeting.*

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Until further notice, the Autumn 2020 Bio4Energy Researchers' Meeting will be held 13-14 October, at Skellefteå, Sweden.

*The pictures used are from archives, in memory of the Spring 2019 Bio4Energy Researchers' Meeting. There and then, our students made a large contribution and want to encourage them to keep up the good work.

Attachments:
Download this file (Biopolymers-and-Biochemical-Conversion-Technologies.pdf)Bio4Energy Biopolymers and Biochemical Conversion Technologies[Leif Jönsson]377 kB
Download this file (Environment-and-Nutrient-Recycling.pdf)Bio4Energy Environment and Nutrient Recycling[Stina Jansson]267 kB
Download this file (Feedstock.pdf)Bio4Energy Feedstock[Totte Niittylä]6443 kB
Download this file (Strategic-Planning.pdf)Strategic Planning[Leif Jönsson]389 kB
Download this file (System-Analysis-and-Bioeconomy.pdf)Bio4Energy System Analysis and Bioeconomy[Robert Lundmark]1377 kB
Download this file (Thermochemical-Conversion-Technologies.pdf)Bio4Energy Thermochemical Conversion Technologies[Markus Broström]304 kB
Download this file (Wood-Pre-processing.pdf)Bio4Energy Wood Pre-processing[Sylvia Larsson]837 kB

Read more: Progress by Bio4Energy's R&D Platforms Unveiled

Popular PhD Course Cancelled, But New Online Introduction on Cards

Sylvia Larsson Kumar Das 030620Sylvia Larsson is new coordinator for education in Bio4Energy. Here with co-worker Atanu Kumar Das. Bio4Energy is having to cancel this autumn’s course in the Bio4Energy Graduate School for advanced students. Biorefinery Pilot Research has been hugely popular for its on-location learning about pilot and demonstration facilities along the coast of northern Sweden. However, the risk for spread of the global Coronavirus means the course has been postponed to next year.

“We will be giving the course as soon as things settle down; hopefully already in spring”, said This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., new coordinator for education in Bio4Energy.

Instead an online introduction will be developed so that all PhD students and postdoctoral researchers interested in research and development in the area of wood biorefinery will have the possibility to learn more about the Bio4Energy research environment and the basics of its activities.

“We are going to make something exceptional that will serve as an entry point to the Graduate School”, Larsson said;

“It is about giving all PhD student the possibility to access what we have to offer. It will place the focus content of the hands-on courses in context. It gives students from different universities the possibility to study together. We have a lot of international students”, she explained.

Read more: Popular PhD Course Cancelled, But New Online Introduction on Cards

Innovation Project on Combined Mushroom, Biofuel Production Attract Headlines

ShaojunXiong AnnaStrom2020Shaojun Xiong leads a project on developing joint mushroom and biofuel production, funded by the Swedish platforms BioInnovation and Bio4Energy. Photo by Anna Strom©2020. A highly original research project—on developing joint production of edible edible mushroom and biofuel—is receiving attention as a top-of-the-line innovation effort in Sweden, as part of the country's aim to develop new technologies and processes for a circular bioeconomy.

A Bio4Energy researcher at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences invented the concept, which rests on the idea that both production strands would be more cost effective and environmentally friendly if they were made in synergy.

If this turns out to be the case—if and when the proposed process and the technologies it relies on have been proven—Sweden could become a net producer of edible mushroom and rely less on imports, all the while making cost-competitive ethanol biofuel.

Read more: Innovation Project on Combined Mushroom, Biofuel Production Attract Headlines

New Programme Managers for Bio4Energy

ChB LJ EW Bio4Energy C MattiasPetterssonBio4Energy's new management team (from left): Christoffer Boman, Leif Jönsson and Elisabeth Wetterlund. Photo by Mattias Pettersson.Bio4Energy has new programme managers. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. of Umeå University (UmU) will be acting programme managers and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Luleå University of Technology (LTU) their deputy.

The appointment comes at a pivotal time, since Bio4Energy is coming up to the close of its second programme period in 2020. Its funder, the Swedish government, is expected to decide this year whether to renew the funding for Sweden’s Strategic Research Environments (SRE), of which Bio4Energy is one.

It will be up to the newly appointed threesome to lead Bio4Energy into the future.

“We hope that wise decisions will be made and that the SRE initiative is allowed to continue. We will have to await the arrival of political decision to know more about this”, said Jönsson, professor of Chemistry at UmU.

Read more: New Programme Managers for Bio4Energy

Project to Develop Sustainability Metrics for Innovative Business on IVA 100 List


SRI SDGs 1 400pxThis team of system analysis researchers at Bio4Energy made the IVA 100 List for Sustainable Competitiveness 2020, with their scheme Developing Sustainability Metrics for Innovative Business. From left: Kavitha Shanmugam, Mats Tysklind, Krishna Upadhyayula and Dalia Abdelfattah.Bio4Energy’s work on developing sustainability metrics for innovative business has been acknowledged by the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences (IVA), on its 100 List for Sustainable Competitiveness 2020.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and his team at Umeå University (UmU), specialised in system analysis research, developed the sustainability metric scheme to assist investors wanting to take so called game-changing academic innovations to commercialisation and to market roll out.

The scheme entails four steps, in which the system analysis researchers start by examining an innovation’s environmental and competitiveness credentials using life-cycle assessment and cost-benefit analysis and end by offering easy-to-use indicators, based on which investors can make their decision to invest or not.

The IVA 100 List for Sustainable Competitiveness 2020 highlights academic research that “has a bearing on sustainability, in technical or economics sciences, which can create value for business or society in terms of knowledge, processes, products or business development”.

“We published a [scientific article] in 2018 that talks about how to make the sustainable decision-making process easy—or rather the financial decision-making process easy—for investors, venture capitalists and industries, to bring right and sustainable technologies to the market”, said Upadhyayula, who is an assistant professor at UmU.

Read more: Project to Develop Sustainability Metrics for Innovative Business on IVA 100 List

The Bio4Energy Partners

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Bio4Energy Industrial Network

Strategic Partners

 RISE Processum

Piteå Science Park/Bothnia Bioindustries Cluster

Industrial Network - Founding Members

AkzoNobel

BillerudKorsnäs

BioFuel Region

CHEMREC

Domsjö Fabriker

Eurocon

Metso Power

MoRe Research

RagnSells

SCA Munksund

SCA Obbola

SEKAB

Skellefteå Kraft

SmurfitKappa

Sunpine

Sveaskog

SweTree Technologies

Umeå Energi

Woodheads

Övik Energi

Holmen Skog