A blog from University of Borås

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Pigments and fungi

Do you like coloured food? Do you want the color to be natural? It could be from coloured fungi!
Fungi such as ascomycetes MonascusFusarium, Penicillium and Neurospora, are being explored as novel sources of natural pigments with biological functionality for food, feed and cosmetic applications. Such edible fungi can be used in biorefineries for the production of ethanol, animal feed and pigments from waste sources. 

We have recently published a review to gather  insights on fungal pigment production covering biosynthetic pathways and stimulatory factors (oxidative stress, light, pH, nitrogen and carbon sources, temperature, co-factors, surfactants, oxygen, tricarboxylic acid intermediates and morphology) in addition to pigment extraction, analysis and identification methods. Enjoy reading it here!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Smart Recycling System

Recycling in Sweden has well developed, where the wastes are separated by people to ca 30 fractions and treated or recycled separately. Glasses (coloured and transparent), metals, packaging (papers and plastics) and newspapers are the recycling materials in large amounts, that a company named FTI has responsibility to collect and send to the recycling. They have the containers everywhere usually in waking distance to each households. However, one problem when to empty these containers. If they come too often, the containers are half empty and transportation costs increases; and if the come too rarely they become full and angry people...

Now, after a test period, 1000 (out of 6000) containers for glass recycling are equipped with a level meter using ultrasound, which measure how full is the container and send a signal to the company to send the trucks to empty them. This system that is developed by a Agade, seems work well and they can save both money and CO2 with more effective transportation.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Food vs. fuel? No! Food from fuel residuals

Oncom is an Indonesian food, where fungi grow on peanuts and convert carbohydrates to protein. It is popular in Java island, particularly around a city names Bandung. People buy oncom and make different food from it.

It is now a few years that we are working together with the Swedish ethanol plant "Lantmännen Agroetanol" to integrate edible fungi into their process to produce more ethanol and also the fungi biomass. In this project, we have examined several edible fungi and the oncom stain gave the best results to grow on their residual streams and produce both ethanol and fungal biomass. The project is going well and is testing in large (up to 1000-m3) bioreactors. The fungal biomass obtained is examined to be used for both animal/fish feed and also human food. Last week, we had a little party at the university with eating oncom and the fungi in a delecious Indonesian food made by our Indonesian PhD student Lukitawesa.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Breaking Bad and Breaking Good

"Breaking Bad" is a name of a TV-series that is available on NETFLIX that got a very high rank among e.g. IMDB. It is about a chemistry teacher who got cancer and then started to use his chemistry knowledge to cook crystal drugs. It is a very interesting series that shows what a chemist can do. I saw some years ago a short conference here in Borås from criminal labb, where many teenagers participated. It shows the teenagers are interested to hot topics and somehow challenging. I believe this series and similar materials can create interest among teenagers to chemistry. We get continuously bad news from journalists about chemicals and how dangerous they are, and it affect interests of the younger generation to chemistry and its relevant fields, although we cannot live without chemicals in all aspects of our lives!

A Breaking Good news from yesterday is about the recent noble prize of Prof. Yoshinori Ohsumi in physiology or medicine who discovered how the recycling of the cells work in the body. It is a "resource recovery" inside the body and a lot of chemistry in advanced level.


Thursday, August 25, 2016

Waste recycling in Nigeria

Lagos is the largest city in Nigeria and one of the largest cities in the world. The waste management authority in the city (LAWMA) collect ca 13,000 tons/day wastes that is mixed wastes. They have several open landfill (or dumping area) around the city with full of scavengers, which is similar to most of the developing countries. I visited one of them in 2010 and wrote something about it. Now, I visited this site again and saw a great development. A private company (WestAfricaENRG) made an investment for waste sorting since 2014. They have ca 300 employees (including many of the previous scavengers) and receive ca 1000-2000 tons/day mixed wastes and sort it with machines to separate small wastes (called compostable materials) and then manually all the valuable materials such as glasses, metals, plastics, papers, etc. The company claims that they separate can 20-25% of the wastes and recyclable that is sold to be processed and used again. The rest (including compostables) goes still to the landfill. It is a great step to improve the waste management in the country.

Another interesting point is that the company encourage people in the residential area around the landfill to bring their recycling materials and sell it to the company. Although it has low price, but still better than the municipality that get paid to receive the wastes. It seems it had an interesting social effect to encourage the people to do so! Here are some photos for the process!

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!

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