The transition from carbon energy sources to the bioeconomy

March 10, 2017

The transition from fossil-based raw materials to renewables has already begun, and tomorrow's bioeconomy is being created today. As part of its Bioeconomy Transformation spearhead programme, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has developed technologies suitable for application in new kinds of value chains; in these, the value created by Finland's agro and forest biomass is efficiently exploited as food, fibre products, chemicals and fuels.

The Bioeconomy Transformation programme has resulted in the development of new products and technologies for industry; the establishment of internationally award-winning spin-offs; and large numbers of patents, scientific publications and doctoral dissertations.

"Much has happened in five years. We are seeing an unprecedentedly strong wave of investment, with new companies and businesses already appearing in the sector. As a scientist, I am excited to see long-term research projects proceed towards industrial exploitation: examples include lignocellulose-based ethanol and lignin applications," says Kristiina Kruus, Research Professor and leader of the Bioeconomy Transformation spearhead project.

A key aim has been to promote the renewal of Finland's industrial sector. VTT has around 200 customers in the bioeconomy sector, for which it has developed for instance composites, packaging materials, nanocellulose, textile fibres, foodstuffs, feed, biofuels and biochemicals. A multi-technological approach has been needed to achieve these goals, since the bioeconomy combines areas such as chemistry, biotechnology, process engineering, modelling, electronics, the social sciences and information technology.

VTT's strengths include the ability to scale up proven ideas from laboratory towards production scale. Its new ace in this respect is the Bioruukki Pilot Centre in Espoo established in 2015. Its the largest of its kind in the Nordic countries. It combines VTT's expertise in chemistry, energy and biomass processing. An example of the technologies being developed in Bioruukki is fast pyrolysis that Fortum is using in its bio-oil plant in Joensuu. Fortum uses forest residues as a raw material, and the heat produced in the bio-oil plant would suffice for more than 10,000 detached houses.

Several spin-off companies were established during the programme, based on technologies developed by VTT: these include Spinnova Ltd, which spins yarn directly from wood; Paptic Ltd, which makes paper bags that have features of plastic ones; GrainSense Oy, which makes portable devices for measuring grain quality and Spectral Engines Oy, which makes smart spectral sensors.

The programme had a major scientific impact in addition to its industrial results. A total of 1200 peer-reviewed scientific articles were published in the field of and 140 patent applications were filed during the programme. Total 28 doctoral degrees were granted, with more to come since some dissertations have yet to be examined.

Explore further: Investing in the 'bioeconomy' could create jobs and reduce carbon emissions

More information: The Making of Bioeconomy Transformation 2017: makingoftomorrow.com/the-makin … transformation-2017/

Related Stories

Cellulose becoming a supermaterial of the future

June 4, 2015

The researchers are working together to develop new biomaterial applications within the Design Driven Value Chains in the World of Cellulose (DWoC) 2.0 project coordinated by VTT.

Bioeconomy innovations: tough starting up

October 5, 2016

A German blog on innovations management estimates that between 175 and 3,000 ideas are needed to bring just one product or service to the market. Venture capitalists assume that only one out of ten investments pays, says ...

Recommended for you

Automated safety systems are preventing car crashes

August 23, 2017

Safety systems to prevent cars from drifting into another lane or that warn drivers of vehicles in their blind spots are beginning to live up to their potential to significantly reduce crashes, according to two studies released ...

Newest solar cells underperform in cloudy countries

August 22, 2017

To determine how efficient new solar cells convert sunlight into electricity, small sample cells are tested under ideal conditions. However, the reported efficiency is not very representative of the actual annual yield when ...

Google to serve next version of Android as 'Oreo"

August 22, 2017

An upcoming update to Google's Android software finally has a delectable name. The next version will be known as Oreo, extending Google's tradition of naming each version after a sweet treat.

Forget oil, Russia goes crazy for cryptocurrency

August 16, 2017

Standing in a warehouse in a Moscow suburb, Dmitry Marinichev tries to speak over the deafening hum of hundreds of computers stacked on shelves hard at work mining for crypto money.

Researchers clarify mystery about proposed battery material

August 15, 2017

Battery researchers agree that one of the most promising possibilities for future battery technology is the lithium-air (or lithium-oxygen) battery, which could provide three times as much power for a given weight as today's ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

gkam
1 / 5 (4) Mar 11, 2017
Are we on the brink of finally finding ways to survive our own follies?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.