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review article

  • Bio4Energy Scientists Acknowledged for Work on Biomass Inhibitors in Wood Biorefinery

    Leif Carlos Award 2Leif Jönsson and Carlos Martín Medina show the plaque and diploma their research group were awarded for the great interest shown by the research community in their scientific article on biomass inhibitors in wood biorefinery. Photo by InYung Sunwoo.

    A team of Bio4Energy scientists and partners have been acknowledged at a prestigious conference for their work to reduce the effect of toxic substances in the pre-treatment of biomass destined for conversion to advanced biofuels made using yeast or microbes to turn wood polymers into fuels.

    Their review article, Pre-treatment of lignocellulose: Formation of inhibitory by-products and strategies for minimising their effects, published in the Bioresource Technologyscientific journal, has not stopped receiving acclaim since its publication in 2016. At the time of New Horizons in Biotechnology Conference (NHBT-2019)—a conference given in India in November this year—results from the article had been mentioned 560 times in other scientific articles by researchers worldwide.

    This made the editorial board of Bioresource Technology decide to award the researcher with a diploma and a plaque for their Highly Downloaded Article 2019.

    “It is the most downloaded article steadily during the last two years and the most cited article of Bioresource Technology since 2016”, said This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. of Umeå University and a PI on the platform Bio4Energy Biopolymers and Biochemical Conversion Technologies.

    “I think it helped that the review covered all three areas of pre-treatment, formation of inhibitors and strategies [designed to lessen] their effects”, Martín added, “and that the discussion included some new important inhibitors in terms of their effects. That is, compounds that form in small amounts, but which are very strong inhibitors”.

  • Conditioning with Reducing Agents Shown to Raise Yields in Advanced Biofuel Production

    CM slurry AS231115Carlos Martín and Bio4Energy colleagues have developed a one-step biomass conditioning-and-conversion process which could bring cost-efficiency to cellulosic ethanol production. Photo by Bio4Energy.Bio4Energy researchers have invented a process which could bring greater certainty of cost efficiency to industrial biorefineries that choose to base their operations on lignocellulosic input materials such as wood from spruce or pine trees.

    Currently the U.S.A. and Italy are among few countries in the world to host industrial biorefineries for the production of ethanol based on cellulose via the biochemical conversion route using industrial enzymes and yeast. However, these biorefineries mainly use agricultural residue as feedstock in their operations.

    While advanced bio-based production is seen as a great opportunity in several richly forested countries in the boreal belt, industrial operators there are up against a practical problem. A large part of the Canadian, Swedish and Finnish forest resource is made up of coniferous tree species whose woody composition is highly complex and requires harsh treatment before rendering its cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin components in separate parts, which is a requirement in most bio-based production. This harsh pre-treatment means toxic elements are left in the biomass slurry resulting from the process, whose impact must be reduced for efficiency to be achieved in the conversion step to fuels and chemicals.