The ambition of the Bio4Fuels Centre is to contribute to reducing the impact of climate gas emissions from the transport sector through sustainable and economic Norwegian production of Biofuels. Sustainable biomass, in particular low-grade waste fractions from the forestry and agriculture industry, can potentially substitute the use of fossil resources as feedstocks for energy in the transport sector, together with other low carbon solutions.
The Centre focusses on four main value chains it's research activities
- Breaking down the biomass to separate out sugars for use in fermentation to produce "Bio-alcohols". These can be blended directly into existing fuels or converted further for use in e. g. aviation.
- Fermentation of the biomass to produce a "Biogas". This Biogas can be upgraded to methane, liquified or converted to Hydrogen for use as fuels in transport.
- Treatment of the biomass at higher temperatures in the absence of oxygen to produce a liquid "Biooil", which is then upgraded to a Biofuel
- Controlled "combustion" of the biomass at higher temperatures to convert to a gas, followed by upgrading of the gas to a s Biofuel.
In addition to the main value chains from Biomass to Biofuels, it is also important to convert side streams and biproducts to products of higher value than fuels. This can be important to help the overall economics of the commercial process.
An important part of the research on the processes is sustainability and economics related to the production of biofuels:
- Improving the technologies and economics of processes for converting Biomass to Biofuel
- Investigating the sustainability and impact of large-scale use of low-grade Biomass for Biofuels production,
- Evaluating process concepts and testing the quality of the Biofuels for existing engines.
From the operation of the Centre so far, the following areas can be highlighted:
- The Centre has an International Advisory Group with representatives from key research sectors from Finland, United Kingdom and United States.
- Bio4Fuels organises annual "Bio4Fuels days" meetings:
- 2017: the national strategy, with an excursion to the production of Paper (Norske Skog AS) and Biogass (Biokraft AS) at Skogn.
- 2018: an international perspective following the release of the IPCC report, including a visit to the Oslo REG Biogass production site.
- 2019: international conference in Gothenburg arranged together with the UK Supergen and the Swedish f3 centres. With >200 participants, the conference provided an important discussing platform within the field.
- 2020: Virtual conference due to Covid-19. International view on biofuels with speakers from the EU Commission, USA, Canada, Finland, and England. Virtual visit to Silva Green Fuel?s plant at Tofte.
- 2021: A hybrid external virtual international conference and a physical internal Centre meeting, organized to establish a dedicated interaction between students, scientists, and industry.
- 2022: A physical meeting in connection with a tour to Equinor's Mongstad Refinery, together with a virtual conference and internal Centre meeting which had as its focus today's energy situation and its consequence for the workplans.
- Bio4Fuels have partners active in representing Norway in key tasks within the International Energy Association (IEA). Specifically addressing aspects related to realizing climate goals dependent on research within Bioenergy. Bio4Fuels research partners (NTNU) have been active in leading the efforts and contributing to the latest IPCC report on Climate Change and Land.
- The Centre contributes to the background for the debate around the role of biofuels in Norway, through organising and attending seminars and by responding to specific topics in the media.
- Partners in the Centre are active in the EUs new Horizon Europe research program contributed to securing one of the few "Green Deal" projects.
- Industry partners in Bio4Fuels have established commercial production of liquified biogas for heavy duty road and ship transport and plan to build commercial plants in Norway, Sweden, and Finland for conversion of biomass to liquid drop in biofuels.
- The Centre is active in several national, European and international arenas within bioenergy and partners have contributed to important reports evaluating scenarios towards realizing climate goals in 2050.
- Bio4Fuels had a successful Midway evaluation during 2020 - 2021, and is well under way with respect to the Centre's final period
In today's society, the environmental impacts of human activities have far reaching implications, not least through climate change. The 2 deg C climate goal proposed by the UNFCCC reinforces the need for the energy sector to adopt long-term development pathways to low-carbon energy supply. Efficient and sustainable use of biomass as renewable feedstock for heat, power and transportation are foreseen as key to achieving this target. According to the IEA-roadmap, 20-30% of global energy demand could be supplied from the conversion of biomass. The total emissions of CO2 in Norway were 53 Mt-CO2-equivalents in 2014; with emissions from transport accounting for 31%. The Norwegian "Klimakur 2020" report concluded that it is feasible to reduce Norwegian greenhouse gas emissions by 15 Mt-CO2 by 2020, of which 30 % could be realized in the transportation sector. As outlined in the project description, Bio4Fuels will follow a core value chain, delivering biofuels and other bioenergy applications from sustainable biomass, thus making a significant contribution to achieving the UNFCCC goals. We will build on earlier collaborations in research on stationary Energy (Cenbio) and experimental infrastructure (NorBioLab) to create a new national platform that will realise recent recommendations by Energi21 and NHO in developing economically viable value chains for industrial production of energy carriers in Norway. The vision of Bio4Fuels will be realised through cooperation between recognised research groups at NMBU, NTNU, NIBIO, PFI, SINTEF, IFE and HSN, in close collaboration with leading national and international industrial partners, national stakeholders and international research groups.