Thesis Project Opportunity!

Thesis Project within Biotechnology

We offer thesis project to student with an education in technical biology, chemical biology, chemical engineering or similar, and with laboratory experience. This project is industrially relevant with a potential real impact on the use of digestate after anaerobic digestion.

Lab-scale biogas reactors

Lab-scale biogas reactors at Tema Environmental Change (Photo: Eva-Maria Ekstrand)

Improved dewaterability of digestate from anaerobic digestion by the addition of pulp and paper mill primary sludge

Anaerobic digestion (AD) of biological waste for biogas production is an important process in today’s society, both in terms of waste reduction as well as the generation of a carbon neutral fuel. Reuse of the nutrient-rich residue (digestate) is essential and can have a significant effect on the economy of the process. The digestate often contains > 90 % water, and therefore dewatering can be an important step to lower the cost for transport to potential customers. This project aims to investigate if the addition of pulp and paper mill primary sludge to the AD process can improve the dewaterability of the sludge, and thereby increase its use and value on the market.

In short, the student will carry out a laboratory study using lab-scale biogas reactors primarily digesting food waste. Primary sludge (rich in fibres) from different types of pulp mills will then be added to the reactors, and the biogas production and dewaterability of the sludge will be assessed.


The thesis project is supervised by researchers from LiU, and the project is part of a research area in the Biogas Research Center (BRC), a national competence center financed by the Swedish Energy Agency, LiU, the Swedish Agricultural University (SLU) and several industrial partners. The student will be invited to take part in and present their results in one of the center’s larger meetings, where several companies will be present. Desired starting date is September 2020, but this can be discussed.

We are looking for a student with an education in technical biology, chemical biology, chemical engineering or similar, and with laboratory experience. This project is industrially relevant with a potential real impact on the use of digestate after anaerobic digestion.


LiU/BRC: Eva-Maria Ekstrand,


Ny BRC publikation!

Developing biogas systems in Norrköping, Sweden: An industrial symbiosis intervention

Axel Lindfors, Marcus Gustafsson, Stefan Anderberg, Mats Eklund, Murat Mirata

Abstract: Biogas systems are often multi-functional and involve several actors in different sectors, requiring these actors to collaborate closely in order to implement such systems. In this paper, a study is presented where the theory of institutional capacity building is used to guide interventions with public and private actors to facilitate the development of local biogas systems in Norrköping, Sweden. The interventions were performed in the form of a workshop series, where local actors with potential to influence biogas developments actively took part. The workshop series generated knowledge on Norrköping’s significant potential for both producing and using biogas, which was traced, in part, to its high concentration of bio-based industries and its good position as a hub for transports. The interventions also created a shared understanding that cooperation and coordination to distribute resources and knowledge about biogas, both geographically and across sectors, was critical for realizing this potential. The municipal organization was identified as an important actor for coordinating these efforts. Observations during the workshops and survey responses indicate that the interventions contributed to building institutional capacity and initiation of efforts to develop local biogas solutions. Ideas put forth in this study enable interventions to target the intangible internal capacities of emerging industrial symbiosis networks. In addition, institutional capacity building serves as a useful analytical framework capable of capturing progress within emerging networks in the short-term even when material, water or energy synergies are yet to be realized.

Här kan ni läsa publikationen (på engelska):

  Lindfors et al. 2020. Journal of Cleaner Production 277: 122822

Ny BRC publikation!

What opportunities could the COVID-19 outbreak offer for sustainability transitions research on electricity and mobility?

Wisdom Kanda, Paula Kivimaa

Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic is a major landscape shock that is having pervasive effects across socio-technical systems. Due to its recentness, sustainability scientists and other researchers have only started to investigate the implications of this crisis. The COVID-19 outbreak presents a unique opportunity to analyze in real time the effects of a protracted landscape-scale perturbation on the trajectories of sustainability transitions. In this perspective, we explore the ramifications for sustainability transition research on electricity and mobility, drawing from selected examples in Finland and Sweden. The long-term consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic are likely to trigger more permanent changes connected to the digitalization of work and other daily activities, thus reducing mobility needs and overall fossil-energy consumption. The crisis may encourage governance systems to be better prepared for different types of shocks in the future, while it also contains a threat of increasingly populist or undemocratic political responses and increased securitization. These developments can guide research by addressing the reproduction of new practices arising from the COVID-19 outbreak to accelerate sustainability transitions, enhancing understanding of the role of governance in transitions, and bringing to attention the ethical and political implications of landscape shocks.

Här kan ni läsa publikationen (på engelska):

    Kanda & Kivimaa 2020. Energy Research & Social Science 68: 101666

”Biogasmarknadsutredningen ett genombrott”

Det finns brister, men på det stora hela är biogasmarknadsutredningen utmärkt och innehåller en rad viktiga förslag. På nationell politisk nivå innebär utredningen till och med ett genombrott för biogas. Det menar professor Mats Eklund som ställt samman LiU:s remissvar till utredningen.

Mats Eklund.
Med beröm godkänt. Mats Eklund beskriver biogasmarknadsutredningen som ett genombrott för biogas på nationell
politisk nivå. Samtidigt finns delar som kunde varit ännu vassare. Foto: Mikael Sönne

Här kan ni läsa hela artikeln

Läs också BRCs remiss till biogasmarknadsutredningen

Välkommen till BRCs online doktorandkurs – Biogas solutions


Välkommen till BRCs doktorandkurs – Biogas solutions – med start i oktober 2020

 Efter en mycket lyckad första kurs med doktorander från BRC samt andra svenska och internationella universitet tillsammans med deltagare från partner och medlemmar vill vi ge fler möjligheten att delta. Kursen kommer fortsatt att ha syftet att ge en bred kunskap om utveckling av biogaslösningar, från processteknik och biokemiska processer till biogasen ur ett systemperspektiv, samhällseffekter och förutsättningar för implementering (se nedan kursinfo).

Kursen vänder sig i första hand till doktorander (både inom och utanför BRC) men också till partner och medlemmar inom BRC som ges möjligheten att delta i kursens många föreläsningar (nu online på distans!).

Sprid gärna informationen om kursen i ditt biogasnätverk!

Är du intresserad av att gå kursen?

Kontakta Madeleine Larsson, 013-28 27 19

Här kan ni hitta information om kursen

Här kan ni se schemat för de öppna föreläsningarna






Ny BRC publikation!

Socio-technical scenarios and local practice – Assessing the future use of fossil-free alternatives in a regional energy and transport system

Thomas Magnusson, Stefan Anderberg, Sofia Dahlgren, Niclas Svensson


•Presents socio-technical scenarios for electric buses, biogas and biodiesel
•Collaborative research approach involving local decision-makers
•Focus on near-term implementation and commercial operation
•Methodological lessons on system delineation, timing, conflict resolution and agency

Abstract: This article presents results from a project involving local practitioners in the construction of scenarios for a regional energy and transport system. The purpose is to demonstrate how sustainability transitions research can interact with local practice by means of socio-technical scenarios. Combining quantitative data with qualitative storylines, the article presents four scenarios, which describe different ways of using biogas, biodiesel and electricity in four different applications: city buses, inter-city buses, heavy-duty trucks and industrial processes. The article compares the four scenarios in terms of realization possibilities, energy efficiency and greenhouse gas reduction. Focusing on near-term realization on a commercial basis, the research findings suggest that collaborative scenario construction can be a useful strategy to manage conflicting agendas and engage key stakeholders in dialogues on transition pathways. The article concludes by presenting policy lessons for practice-oriented transition management. The lessons point to the importance of flexibility in system delineations, the critical timing of near-term scenarios, and the use of scenarios to outline local practitioners’ agency.

Här kan ni läsa publikationen (på engelska):

Magnusson et al. 2020. Transportation Research Interdisciplinary Perspectives 5: 100128

Ny BRC publikation!

Key performance indicators for biogas production—methodological insights on the life-cycle analysis of biogas production from source-separated food waste

Roozbeh Feiz, Maria Johansson, Emma Lindkvist, Jan Moestedt, Sören Nilsson Påledal, Niclas Svensson


• Multi-level and life-cycle-based taxonomy of biogas production from food waste.
• Methodological recommendations to improve and complement life-cycle analysis.
• Integrating three different functions of biogas production.
• Seven key performance indicators to capture multiple functions of biogas production.
• A hypothetical example demonstrating the use of the suggested method.

Abstract: The anaerobic digestion of food waste can not only enhance the treatment of organic wastes, but also contributes to renewable energy production and the recirculation of nutrients. These multiple benefits are among the main reasons for the expansion of biogas production from food waste in many countries. We present methodological insights and recommendations on assessing the environmental and economic performance of these systems from a life-cycle perspective. We provide a taxonomy of the value chain of biogas from food waste which describes major activities, flows, and parameters across the value chain with a relatively high detail. By considering the multiple functions of biogas production from food waste, we propose a few key performance indicators (KPI) to allow comparison of different biogas production systems from the perspectives of climate impact, primary energy use, nutrients recycling, and cost. We demonstrate the operational use of our method through an example, where alternatives regarding the heat supply of the biogas plant are investigated. We demonstrate how global and local sensitivity analyses can be combined with the suggested taxonomy and KPIs for uncertainty management and additional analyses. The KPIs provide useful input into decision-making processes regarding the future development of biogas solutions from food waste.

Här kan ni läsa publikationen (på engelska):

     Feiz et al. 2020. Energy 200: 117462

Ny BRC-publikation!

Viscosity dynamics and the production of extracellular polymeric substances and soluble microbial products during anaerobic digestion of pulp and paper mill wastewater sludges

Eva‑Maria Ekstrand  · Bo H. Svensson · Luka Šafarič · Annika Björn

Abstract: The production processes of the pulp and paper industry often run in campaigns, leading to large variations in the composition of wastewaters and waste sludges. During anaerobic digestion (AD) of these wastes, the viscosity or the production of extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) and soluble microbial products (SMP) may be affected, with the risk of foam formation, inefficient digester mixing or poor sludge dewaterability. The aim of this study was to investigate how viscosity and production of EPS and SMP during long-term AD of pulp and paper mill sludge is affected by changes in organic loading rate (OLR) and hydraulic retention time (HRT). Two mesophilic lab-scale continuous stirred tank reactors (CSTRs) were operated for 800 days (R1 and R2), initially digesting only fibre sludge, then co-digesting fibre sludge and activated sludge. The HRT was lowered, followed by an increase in the OLR. Reactor fluids were sampled once a month for rheological characterization and analysis of EPS and SMP. The production of the protein fraction of SMP was positively correlated to the OLR, implicating reduced effluent qualities at high OLR. EPS formation correlated with the magnesium content, and during sulphate deficiency, the production of EPS and SMP increased. At high levels of EPS and SMP, there was an increase in viscosity of the anaerobic sludges, and dewatering efficiency was reduced. In addition, increased viscosity and/or the production of EPS and SMP were important factors in sludge bulking and foam formation in the CSTRs. Sludge bulking was avoided by more frequent stirring.
Keywords: Rheology · Extracellular polymeric substances · Soluble microbial products · OLR · Sludge bulking

Här kan ni läsa publikationen (på engelska):

  Ekstrand et al. 2020. Bioprocess and Biosystems Engineering 43:283–291