- Our focus is to develop the next generation concept for a forest-based biorefinery, said Paul Christakopoulos, professor of biochemical engineering at Luleå University of Technology.
From the inauguration of two new lab at the university
One of the recently inaugurated laboratories is a biorefinery for green chemicals from forest biomass. The other is a nuclear magnetic resonance lab where, among other things, the structure and dynamics of molecules, surface properties of minerals and nanocomposites can be determined.
- That will open for the development of new materials, efficient separation processes for minerals and effective drugs, says Oleg Antzutkin, professor within the research area Chemistry of Interfaces at Luleå University of Technology.
According to Paul Christakopoulos the research strategy for the first mentioned lab is to develop next generation green chemicals using more of all biomass coming from the Swedish forest.
- We believe that for our University, in northern Sweden and northern Europe, it is very important to develop this technology, he says.
A biorefinery works basically with the same logical processes such as an oil refinery, which develops a series of fossil products. According to the same logic biomass from the forest can decompose and by using various processes, a plurality of products evolve, more than just biofuels.
- The concept of traditional biorefineries is biofuels but now we try to move forward because the price of fuel is very low, so we need to focus on the production of chemicals with high added value which can generate entirely new products, he says.
Some of the equipment in the lab is a reactor used for pre-treatment and fractionation of forest biomass. With the help of another equipment one can use the pretreated biomass to produce biofuels such as ethanol, butanol and other chemical substances of which one can produce a variety of products, such as bio-plastics, which can replace products currently made from oil-based material .
- We can say that we are trying to develop a completely new biorefinery concept where we make biochemicals from all fractions of wood, says Paul Christakopoulos.