Improving the biofuel process through a new biomass pretreatment


Yue Dong is defending her doctoral thesis at University of Oulu on Wednesday, November 8th. Her thesis is called is “Catalytic depolymerisation of lignocellulosic biomass into reducing sugars: Use of ionic liquids and acid-catalysed mechanical approach” and deals with the pretreatment of biomass to improve the energy creation possibilities.

Dong came to Finland from Shenyang, PR China, to study in Centria’s degree programme in Environmental Chemistry and Technology. After her graduation in 2009 she pursued her studies within a join a master’s degree programme, studying in Denmark, Germany and the UK. During her time in Denmark, she became familiar with research and development activities and wanted to take part in them. Comparing all the countries she has studied in, Dong quickly realized that she preferred the Finnish educational system, which allows more independence and a more experimental approach in research:

- I felt like teachers and research in Finland enabled us to find new ways, not pushing us too much in a certain direction, there is more freedom, Dong sums up.

Dong had a strong interested in dealing with biomass and she soon found a suitable topic, after discussing with Professors Dr Jana Holm and Dr Ulla Lassi, who have both been researching and working with the subject. 
Finnish legislation concerning biomass is currently changing: companies can no longer get rid of their waste by burning it. Companies are keen on finding ways to make use of the biomass to create a money flow, rather than dumping it.  Pulp and paper mill industries in the Ostrobothnian area produce a lot of fibre sludge and they are interested in finding new ways of dealing with the residue. Creating biofuel is an excellent option to making use of biomass. 

Dong’s focus has been working on improving the way biomass, or residue is pretreated in order to make the whole biofuel creation process more efficient. Her studies focus on combining the hydrolysis process into the pretreatment phase, meaning the sugars would start forming earlier thus creating a bigger amount of sugar, affecting the result of the process. This new process would save chemicals and time, therefore be economically more interesting for companies. 
Dong hopes to pursue her research in the field as a process still lacks some finalizing. Part of her work took place within the BioRaff project. Centria’s R&D Chemistry and Bio-Economy team is actively working on different solutions to support companies in making the most of their waste and biomass. 

Yue Dong's dissertation will take place on Wednesday November 8th, 2017 at 12:00. It will take place in the Auditorium, at Centria University of Applied Sciences, Talonpojankatu 2, FIN- 61700 Kokkola. 

More information
Yue Dong, researcher,
Hanna-Kaisa Koponen, R&D Manager Chemistry and Bio-Economy team, +358 44 725 0270,

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