Through a unique cross-industry collaboration, a new technology for covering mining waste has now been tested in demonstration scale at Boliden's mine in Garpenberg. The new technology involves a mixture of green liquor sludge, a residual material from the pulp industry, which can be an alternative to bentonite when improving the density of moraine. The collaboration is part of the Horizon 2020 project PaperChain - Now that the Paperchain test plot in Garpenberg is complete, we at Boliden are excited to see the result of this research cooperation with our partners. We will be closely monitoring its long-term performance and that hopefully it will meet our expectations, says Rodrigo Jr Embile, development engineer at Boliden.

The main objective when covering mining waste is to minimize the total oxygen penetration through the sealing layer to the underlying mining waste and thereby limit weathering and leaching of, for example, heavy metals. The mixture of green liquor sludge in the waterproofing layer means that what is now a residual material, in the future could have a new area of ​​use, while the mining industry would have access to a material with positive environmental properties - Via the pulp mill's chemical recycling process, green liquor sludge is formed which has a high water holding capacity and at the same time low water permeability. These are attractive properties in the construction of oxygen barriers, which are key functions of the mining industry's waterproofing layer, says Gunnar Westin, business developer at RISE Processum.

Primär Pressbild PaperChain Garpenberg Boliden

Photo: Boliden

In the PaperChain project, Boliden, Ragn-Sells, Ecoloop, Luleå University of Technology, RISE Processum in close collaboration with a number of pulp mills, have jointly developed the new technology to cover mining waste. Thereby, the entire business chain, from supplier to end customer, has been part of the collaboration. Ragn-Sells currently handles a number of different residual streams from, for example, pulp mills and has extensive experience in recycling and waste management. - An important part of our business is to find values ​​and areas of use for materials and residual streams that are often considered waste. The technology of using green liquor sludge from pulp mills to create a waterproofing layer for mining waste is a good example of this, says Pär Odén, business project manager at Ragn-Sells.

The collaboration was born out of a concrete need, and has thus been developed in a very industry-oriented manner. An open approach across industry boundaries was also an important factor in order to take the step from tests in a lab environment to demonstration tests in the field. - A need was identified in the mining industry, at the same time there was a material from the forest industry with properties that can be tested against the specific requirements for a material to be considered suitable as an oxygen barrier. Through a Horizon 2020 project such as PaperChain, we have the opportunity to collaborate throughout the business chain and involve actors from every part, which has meant a faster development process and the opportunity to test the new technology on a large scale, says Gunnar Westin at RISE Processum. He believes that the PaperChain project shows that an open way of working creates new conditions for development. - What we have done is industrial symbiosis in a sharp case and we have learned an incredible amount from each other along the way.

Luleå University of Technology will now follow up and evaluate the functions of the covering technique that has been tested - It is very gratifying that we have been able to build a test site in demonstration scale and we will now be able to follow up and evaluate it. The main alternative to improving moraine with green liquor sludge today is a mixture of bentonite, which means a higher climate footprint and is costly. The test plot will be available for a long period of time, which is of great interest to our doctoral students. Several doctoral students have worked in the project and done the laboratory tests and material characterization that have formed the basis for the choice of material and the numerical modeling that has been performed to design the surface, says Christian Maurice, associate professor at Luleå University of Technology.

Now begins work with the investment in a world-unique test bed environment for commercialization of new technologies, products and services within bioeconomy. In a first phase, a flexible pilot hall is being built with several different test beds adjacent to RISE already established activities in Örnsköldsvik.

In the autumn budget, the Government has allocated RISE SEK 350 million over two years to RISE with the intent to intensify work on sustainable solutions in bioeconomy. The addition will strengthen RISE investment in test beds for biorefinery. Now, the first step is being taken in the establishment of a centre for test beds where innovators, entrepreneurs, marketers and researchers can meet to scale up and commercialize new technologies.

“The purpose of the initiative is to create an internationally leading centre for the commercialization of the emerging bioeconomy's new products. The investment can include a wide range of technologies and end products with climate relevance as the common denominator”, says Pia Sandvik, CEO of RISE.

In a first phase, RISE will build a flexible pilot hall with a variety of different test beds. The plan is to build the pilot hall in Örnsköldsvik, in order to create the greatest synergies with existing infrastructure and existing research environments. The goal is to establish a world-class innovation environment where companies, researchers and entrepreneurs in the bioeconomy can meet. In addition to the infrastructure and operator strength provided by RISE, it will be possible for companies to set up their own pilot equipment and station staff in the dynamic innovation environment consisting of labs, pilots, offices and meeting places.

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Magnus Hallberg, Senior Vice President Bioeconomy and Health Foto: Jonas Forsberg

“To identify what infrastructure is needed, we will initially listen with big ears to get the business, academia, entrepreneurs and institutes' picture of which technologies are closest to commercialization and what they need to reach full production scale as soon as possible. The key word here is making business from all the promising development work that already exists”, says Magnus Hallberg, head of the Bioeconomy and Health division at RISE.

“We will also identify how the rest of RISE research infrastructure in the bioeconomy area fits into this new centre and review any development needs together with customers and partners.”

RISE has recruited Clas Engström as project manager for the initiative.

“I am convinced that Clas with his solid knowledge, experience and network in the biorefinery area is the right person to lead this important project”, says Magnus Hallberg.


For more information: Magnus Hallberg, Senior Vice President Bioeconomy and Health, RISE +46 10-516 67 63, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

We welcome Johan Börjesson, who in the beginning of September joined RISE Processum as a senior project manager. Johan will be part of the biotechnology group, but has a broad role where he will work to connect projects across all working groups at Processum. Johan brings a long international experience in the field of biorefinery, having worked in various roles in Denmark, the United States and Scotland. - We are very happy to have recruited Johan to the biotechnology group. Johan will, among other things, contribute to strengthening our contract research operations, coordinate research projects and contribute with his expertise in scaling up bioprocesses, says Björn Alriksson, group manager for the biotechnology group at Processum.

Johan, who was born and raised in Järna south of Södertälje, began his studies in nutrition. However, he soon realized that he wanted to take a closer look at chemistry and chose to study in Linköping. - After 2.5 years in Linköping, I felt that I wanted to add more engineering subjects. Therefore, I studied chemical engineering in Lund and graduated in 2002. After that, I also did my doctorate in biochemistry in Lund and my dissertation focused on enzymatic hydrolysis of pre-treated spruce. My main focus was surface interactions between the enzymes and the material, Johan explains.

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Immediately after his doctorate, Johan started working as a researcher at the Danish biotechnology company Novozymes, which manufactures industrial enzymes for a variety of applications. After seven years in Denmark, Johan moved to the United States, where he worked for two years at one of Novozymes' research and production units in North Carolina. - I was project manager for a joint development agreement Novozymes had with Biochemtex in Italy. The project involved developing the enzymes and processes specific to that plant in collaboration with the Italian operations.

After nine years at Novozymes, however, Johan felt it was time to expand and do something new. - There had been a little too many enzymes there for a while, Johan smiles. This time he moved to Scotland and the first year he worked at a medical technology company before Johan took on the role of technical manager at the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Center (IBioIC), a state-funded innovation center in Glasgow, one of eight in various strategic areas. Attached to IBioIC are 120-130 member companies, which span the entire bioeconomy sector. The cluster includes larger companies such as Unilever, GlaxoSmithKlein and a number of start-ups. - It gave me very good training in going into a meeting with a company and quickly finding out what it is they want, what they need and how I can help them, and then supply the right contacts, says Johan. Johan looks forward to continue with networking and contact creation in his role at Processum - I will work across all groups at Processum, as well as nationally and internationally to build new research areas and projects and connect stakeholders. A great part of my job is to see new contacts being made, creating real results and new collaborations.”

In his spare time, Johan spends a lot of time outdoors and exercises often, especially running. He has run a number of ultra-races over the years. Now he also wants to add more cycling and swimming, to later perhaps participate in swimrun, a sport where the practitioner alternates between swimming and running without stopping. – I also will definitely take up skiing again! Both in cross-country and alpine, says Johan. He also enjoys taking his dog out for walks in the nearby forest. Örnsköldsvik's large range of training opportunities close to nature feels like a good match.

After an international career, which took him to Denmark, North Carolina and Glasgow, Johan looks forward to landing on Swedish soil. - It will be fun to finally work in Sweden! Johan concludes.

RISE Processum is very happy to have Johan join our team and wish him a warm welcome to Sweden and Örnsköldsvik!

We welcome Rabia Ayub, who from the beginning of August has been working at Processum as a researcher in the chemistry group. Rabia has a broad knowledge in the field of chemistry and has a doctorate in organic chemistry from Uppsala University. I have developed deep understanding and expertise in organic synthesis, computational chemistry, and organic photochemistry. During my time as a postdoctoral fellow at Stockholm University, I worked on designing new electrochemical routes for lignin depolymerization. I look forward to using my experiences and working to develop new renewable and sustainable solutions, says Rabia.

Born and raised in Pakistan, Rabia moved to Sweden and Uppsala in 2013, when she was awarded an Erasmus Mundus PhD scholarship. – I have always been open to learning new things and new experiences and was very happy when I received a scholarship and an opportunity to study at one of the world's foremost universities in the area.

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When the position as a researcher at Processum appeared in Rabia's LinkedIn feed in the spring of 2020, it sparked her curiosity and she decided to apply for the position – We know that we must switch to sustainable alternatives and that we must find new ways to produce them. I want to use my knowledge and work within that transition, says Rabia. – I looked at Processum's website and saw that here they work very close to the industry and with projects that are needs-driven. It caught my interest.

It turned out to be a good match with the skills and background that was sought after at Processum and since the beginning of August, Rabia has been working as a researcher in the chemistry group and is involved in several projects. One of them is "Green Bioraff Solutions", where activated carbon is produced from hydrolysis lignin and tannin-based foams are produced from bark. – We are very happy for the recruitment of Rabia to Processum. With her background, she strengthens our competence in organic chemistry and specifically our lignin research, says Marie-Louise Wallberg, head of the chemistry group at Processum. Another area where Rabia's expertise will be very valuable is within HTL (Hydrothermal liquefaction). – It is an exciting area where we see many opportunities, says Marie-Louise Wallberg

Rabia describes herself as curious and open to trying new things and accept new challenges. Her first arrival in Sweden when she moved to Uppsala in 2013, however, was in stark contrast to her everyday life in Lahore, Pakistan's second largest city. – When I arrived in Sweden, my first thought was that no one lives here! I'm from a very large city, where you have to maneuver to get around on the street or in shopping malls. In that way, it was like coming to a completely different world, Rabia remembers. But life in Sweden and the opportunities it offers for new nature experiences suit Rabia very well. Spending time in nature and the forest is something she really appreciates. Cooking and cycling are two other interests – I love trying new things, new dishes and meeting new people! When I visited Processum in Örnsköldsvik, it was the first time I was so far north in Sweden. I saw the mountains and it was incredible. I did not know that northern Sweden was so beautiful! Being close to nature, the mountains and the forest, I should have come here earlier!

We are very happy that Rabia has joined us at Processum and warmly welcome her.

From 1 June, Payam Ghiaci has joined the biotechnology group at Processum as a senior researcher. Originally from Iran, Payam has a diverse scholarly background “I studied civil engineering for one year at university, but one year in I thought this was not something I wanted to do for my whole life, so I switched to chemical engineering. Eventually I took some optional courses in microbiology as well, and that was actually the first time I moved towards biotech”, says Payam.


Payam moved to Sweden in 2006 to study for a master’s degree and PhD at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg. However, in parallel to his PhD, Payam also studied social sciences at University of Gothenburg “It was a very unique experience that I am very happy I chose to do. The program was called ‘Global Studies’. The extent to which we are interconnected nowadays and the hybridity of our identities is just unprecedented and comprehending this as the essence of our era, has been very helpful to me in my interactions both at the workplace and in life in general. Many of the issues we are trying to solve in our research are global challenges that we face all together, and my background in social sciences is a resource to me in that regard as well”

After his PhD, Payam did a postdoc at University of Gothenburg and a second postdoc at EMBL in Heidelberg Germany. He has also spent a summer at Statoil Research Center in Trondheim Norway and done scale-up experiments in Tarragona, Spain. “I have been moving around quite a bit”, as Payam says. It was a former colleague at Chalmers who tipped him off about the position at Processum and from the beginning of June, Payam now lives in Örnsköldsvik. One of his focus areas at Processum will be to set up a highthroughput laboratory and establish more research in the field of molecular biology at Processum “We are very happy to have succeeded in recruiting Payam to the biotechnology group. Payam will, among other things, contribute to the development of the molecular biology field within which we see great opportunities in the future”, says Björn Alriksson, head of the biotechnology group at Processum.

Another interesting experience Payam has had is that during the end of his PhD he started a start-up “I worked with Chalmers Ventures and quite a few innovation centers in Gothenburg and also in Heidelberg”. Payam describes it as an uplifting experience that he thinks will give him an insight understanding the work Processum does in the innovation system.  

Payam also hopes to take advantage of the network of contacts that he has built up through his travels and studies to bring new collaborations and projects. “The projects at Processum are unique in the sense that they are 100% industrially motivated. That is the main difference from other places I have been at. The scale of facilities we have here are rather unique as well, I should say, and from what I have seen they are world class”, says Payam.

In his spare time Payam likes to play the piano, but has yet to find one in Örnsköldsvik. He is also very much into reading poems “As someone coming from Iran, poetry is in our blood, so to say”, says Payam. Photography is another interest and combining poems with images he feels adds another dimension.

We wish Payam a warm welcome to Processum!

RISE Processum AB
Box 70, SE-891 22
Phone: +46 10-516 67 50
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