A blog from University of Borås

Friday, February 17, 2012

More Biogas in West Sweden

Västra Götaland (VG) is the name of the largest province in west Sweden with 1.6 million inhabitants. This province together with two other provinces named Skåne (South) and Stockholm (east) are the largest producer of biogas in Sweden. In VG, about 200 GWh biogas (equal to about 21 million m3 methane) was produced in 2011, in order to feed 7111 cars, 1354 light trucks, 262 heavy trucks and 224 buses.

The province has now a heavy plan to increase its biogas production to 2.4 TWh (equal to 250 million m3 methane gas) per year in 2020, in which half of it to be produced by bacterial digestion and the other half via gasification. In order to reach this goal, many organizations, companies, farmers, universities, schools, municipalites etc. are now gathering to syncronize their activities. We are also an active partner in this development with our research, education, development and international network with the hope to reach the goal. More information about the program can be found at Biogas Väst!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Ethanol in windstorm in Sweden and Denmark

Fuel ethanol is currently produced primarily from sugarcane and grains. It is called the first generation ethanol, and with its 70 million tons/year production is globally dominant in the fuel market. A few years back, ethanol cars were dominant in the Swedish green car markets. Today, allmost all the gas stations offer ethanol as E85 to the customers. However, a stron debate on "Food vs. Fuel" in a few years ago, as well as increased price of ethanol reduced the interest to ethanol cars in Sweden.

The 2nd generation ethanol that is produced from lignocellulosic materials has been a very hot topic in the world since 1980's. The research resulted in great development (cf. our previous review articles 1 and 2) and it is still going on. Many problems of the process have been solved, or are still investigating. However, industrially talking, the "real" price of lignocellulosic ethanol is still high and cannot compete with the 1st generation ethanol. A recent report in Denmark point to a price of about 0.5 Euro per liter higher that the 1st generation ethanol. There are many reasons for this high price, such as enzyme price, difficulties of the pretreatment, transportation costs of raw materials, etc.

As the results of these difficulties, we heard last month turing down the Swedish cellulosic ethanol pilot plant (SEKAB), and now backing of Danish Energy minister in supporting of the large scale ethanol plant of Dong Energy.

We see now the polititions in Denmark talk in favor of methanol and DME. We shouldn't forget our experiences in Sweden for many years in developing both methanol and also DME. These are interesting biofuels, but they also have their own drawbacks. There is simply no black and white, or good and bad. We shouldn't make a high expectation or just disappoint people, as our media or polititions sometimes do!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Metals recycling in Sweden

Stena Recycling AB is a large company in Sweden that is active in recycling of wastes. This company collect different recycling wastes such as metals and papers in Sweden and other neibouring countries in their 200 plants, and treat them until becoming raw materials for other industries. One interesting part of this process is how to separate the mixture of different metals in e.g. a car or household wastes or industrial wastes. In this process (figure below), after crushing by mills, magnets are used to separate iron followed by separation using density differences of the metals. It seems they recycle about 99% of the metals which is a very good number. It is a good business considering the prices of the metals that go up every day!