Fuel from biomass
The department has long been involved in research on the production of fuels from biomass, mainly lignocellulose-rich materials, such as the by-products of forestry and agriculture, as these do not compete with the production of food.
The main incentive for producing transportation fuel from biomass is the need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. This can be achieved by a combination of measures, such as more energy-efficient vehicles, reducing the need for transportation, and introducing biomass-based fuels. The production of ethanol, biogas and biohydrogen from lignocellulose, and the production of green LPG from the by-product glycerol are the main areas of research.
Scientists at the department have been involved in the transformation of the Swedish energy system since the oil crisis in the 1970s, mainly by investigating the production of fuel, mainly ethanol, from biomass. The focus of this research has changed as a result of the advancements made and the results obtained. The most important stages in bioethanol production, as well as in other energy carriers, are the pretreatment and hydrolysis of the biomass to produce fermentable sugars, the fermentation of complex sugar solutions, and the purification of the products. Process design and techno-economic analysis in which complete production processes are modelled are important elements in steering new research in the right direction.
The department is also host to a national process development unit where pretreatment and fermentation can be studied on pilot scale for both batch and continuous processes.