A blog from University of Borås

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Awards from FAO, Khwarizmi and Iran President

Last week was the ceremony of the 29th Khwarizmi International Festival that gives the highest scientific awards in Iran. I along ten other foreigners were the international award winners among more than 600 nominees. There were also about ten local winners. My topic was about Resource Recovery and I was nominated and selected by the agricultural committee!

I got an Honorable Mention from Iranian President and also the Minister of Science and Technology. In addition, I was the only one who got an extra award from FAO (Food and Agricultural Organization of United Nation) with a beautiful medal.

I am very proud of it. Here are some photos!






Thursday, March 3, 2016

Vegetarian meatballs from fungi

It is now a few years that we are working together with the Swedish ethanol plant "Agroetanol" to integrate edible fungi into their process to produce more ethanol and also the fungi biomass. The project is going well and we hopefully test it soon in 1000-m3 bioreactors. The fungi is cultivated now on a stream called thin stillage and fungal biomass can be used for both animal/fish feed and also human food. Last week, the company made meatballs from these fungi that was similar to minced meat. With little spices, and then fried, it became a tasty vegetarian meatball. Here is the leftover from my dish!


...and a film about it in Swedish:

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Two articles on analytical methods for lignocelluloses pretreatment

Lignocelluloses are widely investigated as renewable substrates to produce biofuels, e.g., ethanol, methane, hydrogen, and butanol, as well as chemicals such as citric acid, lactic acid, and xanthan gum. However, lignocelluloses have a recalcitrance structure to resist microbial and enzymatic attacks; therefore, many physical, thermal, chemical, and biological pretreatment methods have been developed to open up their structure. The efficiency of these pretreatments was studied using a variety of analytical methods that address their image, composition, crystallinity, degree of polymerization, enzyme adsorption/desorption, and accessibility. We have recently published 2 open access papers in Bioresource Technology to address the advantages, drawbacks, approaches, practical details, and some points that should be considered in the experimental methods to reach reliable and promising conclusions are also discussed:

1- A critical review on analysis in pretreatment of lignocelluloses: degree of polymerization, adsorption/desorption, and accessibility

2- A critical review on analysis in pretreatment of lignocelluloses: degree of polymerization, adsorption/desorption, and accessibility


Friday, December 4, 2015

Sweden 2050: Fossil- or renewable-fuel free?

Sweden has recently announced its goal to become the first fossil-fuel free in the world. It is an exciting news. When looking at the energy profile of the country, it has been pretty successful in using renewable energy for electricity, and heating/chilling in the households, buildings and industries. However, with ca 13% renewable in the fuel market for the transportation, Sweden has many difficulties to reach this ambitious goal.

However, with the current oil price, it seems the politicians are passive and just make wrong decision on everything, particularly considering the first time that environmental party contribute to the government. They increased the tax on ethanol fuel so practically nobody tank with ethanol (E85) any longer as it is now the most expensive fuel in the market. When it comes to biogas, it not better. The politicians in Gothenburg city decided to shut down the GoBiGas project (thermal production of biogas via gasification) and also the biogas from digestion is also too expensive.

The conclusion is that with this oil price and passive politicians, particularly "environmental party", it seems we will consume more fossil fuel in the future and Sweden will be more "renewable-fuel free" in 2050!


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

PhD Thesis: Biogas from slaughterhouse wastes

Now it is the fifth and last defense from our group in biotechnology this year. Jhosané Pagés Díaz who is going to defend next week, came from Cuba to Sweden as a sandwich PhD student four years ago. She worked hard on a difficult subject that is about "Biogas from slaughterhouse waste" where she studied mixture interactions in co-digestion. In simple words, this waste has a lot of fats and proteins, but bacteria - just like humans - need a mixture of food and nutrients just to be happy, grow and produce a lot of biogas. So, she tried to make a happy soup for the bacteria. She was also happy today while nailing her thesis and will defend it next week. I wish her a happy ending...

Here is the link to her thesis that also include these papers:

- Co-digestion of different waste mixtures from agro-industrial activities: Kinetic evaluation and synergetic effects

Co-digestion of bovine slaughterhouse wastes, cow manure, various crops and municipal solid waste at thermophilic conditions: a comparison with specific case running at mesophilic conditions

Anaerobic co-digestion of solid slaughterhouse wastes with agro-residues: Synergistic and antagonistic interactions determined in batch digestion assays

Semi-continuous co-digestion of solid cattle slaughterhouse wastes with other waste streams: Interactions within the mixtures and methanogenic community structure




Monday, November 23, 2015

Analytical methods in pretreatment of lignocelluloses

It is now several decades that lingocelluloses are investigated to produce ethanol, methane, hydrogen, butanol, citric acid, lactic acid, etc. However, the structure of these materials are difficult to open by enzymes and microorganisms and therefore pretreatment is used. There are several analytical methods that used in this aspects. We have explained these analytical methods and critically reviewed them in two papers. The first half of this review is now presented in this publication that is open access in Bioresource Technology:

A critical review of analytical methods in pretreatment of lignocelluloses: Composition, imaging, and crystallinity

Monday, October 26, 2015

PhD thesis: Integration of filamentous fungi in ethanol dry-mill biorefinery

Today, Jorge Ferreira nailed his exciting thesis that paves the way to integrate cellulosic ethanol into first generation ethanol plants using edible filamentous fungi. In the traditional ethanol plants named dry mills, grains are milled to powders, cooked with water and enzymes to cut starch into smaller molecules and then sugars, and then serve it the baker's yeast to eat and produce spirit. However, the yeast cannot eat everything. Now, the leftover is served to fungi to take care of the rest and produce more ethanol and also animal/fish feed so everybody become happy, including Jorge.

This work will hopefully goes the whole way to become commercial soon.
Jorge will defend his thesis in three weeks on 13 Nov. I wish him good luck.


Here is the link to the thesis, that also include these papers:

- Fungal protein and ethanol from lignocelluloses by Rhizopus pellets under simultaneous saccharification, filtration and fermentation (SSFF)







Wednesday, October 21, 2015

On the backyard of Palm Oil industries

If you fly nowadays in Indonesia or Malaysia, you will see frequent flight cancellation because of hazy weather. It is the end of dry season and forest burning is named as the main reason. As you might know, these countries produce more than 90% of palm oil in the world. Indonesia that dominates the market, has about 1,000 palm oil mills to produce CPO. However, it seems nobody cares about their environmental aspects. These industries benefit of forest fires. In addition, they produce millions tons of wastewater (POME) that is not treated properly and also the open fruit bunches (OPEFB) that is dumped to self composting and burning to terrible fog and smell and also the palm fibers that is burned improperly to create a black exhaust gas. I just put a photo that I took from one of these mills that is not the worst.

It is just not sustainable and this industry needs a better attention probably internationally to stop damaging the tropical forests, and environment for millions of people in this region.

Friday, October 16, 2015

PhD thesis: Industrial Bioprocess Developments for Biogas and Ethanol Production

Karthik Rajendran came to Borås from Chennai (India) in 2009 as MSc student and he nailed his PhD thesis today after several years hard work on experimental and modeling work for biogas and ethanol processes. In this period, he had a great contribution to new soft biogas reacFOV Biogas". In addition, he did great job in modeling of biogas process, particularly the digestion reactions and also integration of the first and second generation ethanol plants. He will defend his thesis on 6 Nov. I wish him good luck!
tors that is introducing to the market now with a trade name "

Here is the link to his thesis that includes these papers:

- Techno-economic analysis of integrating first and second generation ethanol production using filamentous fungi 





Wednesday, October 7, 2015

PhD thesis: Fermentative Hydrogen and Methane Productions using Membrane Bioreactors

We have several PhD defenses this year, where Julius Akinbomi is the 2nd one this fall. He has worked on dark fermentation, where hydrogen and biogas are produced. It is a complicated task that he tried to improve the yields and also fight with the inhibition effects using membrane bioreactors. Julius nailed his thesis yesterday and will defend it on 28 October. I wish him good luck.

The thesis can be obtained here. In addition, he had several publications including: