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!

This Tuesday RISE Processum hosted a CNC Workshop arranged together with More Research. CNC pilot co-owners Holmen and Israeli start-up company Melodea also participated together with leading experts and stakeholders from industry, institutes and academia.

The workshop aimed to extend the network of CNC stakeholders established within the TinyBTalented project (TBT). “By putting together leading research, competence and market stakeholders to share and discuss experiences, applications for CNC and possible future collaborations we strongly believe that this project contributes to forming an innovation hub for CNC-application research around the pilot”, says Liselotte Uhlir and Karin Johnson project managers for TBT, from RISE Processum.

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 Clarite Azerraf, CTO Melodea and Shaul Lapidot, CEO Melodea

The TinyBTalented was initiated by the four collaborating partners establishing the CNC pilot in Örnsköldsvik, More Research, Holmen, Melodea and Processum. It contains research regarding NanoCellulose and chrystalline Nano Cellulose and networking activities. The TBT collaboration connects competence, partners, and market stakeholders, it builds networks and creates an innovation hub for CNC-application research.

Key Note speaker of the day was Dr. Tiffany Abitbol, who with great enthusiasm shared her passion for CNC with a guide through the historical development of CNC as well as todays research. She has been working with CNC all over the world with presence across three different continents and never gets bored with watching her micrographs, ”I think they are so beautiful”, she says.CNC has so many possibilities. When my parents ask me what I do, I say I work with CNC. When they then ask -What do you do with it? I say: to everything! Not a very satisfying answer but what else can you say about a material with such an enormous potential?”, says Dr Tiffany Abitbol

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Dr Tiffany Abitbol, RISE Research Institutes of Sweden

Tiffany was followed by Dr Shaul Lapidot, CEO of Melodea, who started Melodea in 2012 together with Tord Gustafsson and prof. Oded Shoseyov. Dr Lapidot described their development journey from start in the laboratory, a small pilot in Israel, how Holmen got involved in Melodea, the work with up-scaling of the process and the technique which the pilot in Örnsköldsvik now is based upon.

During the day the participants also got to hear about the pilot plant in Örnsköldsvik from the owner’s point of view, the four owners represented by Anders Norén, Head of Development at Holmen. Research results from the pilot studies in the TBT-project were presented and an important highlighting of the need for extended research regarding safety. Karin Broberg from KI presented research gaps and the recently started the project NanoCellRisk aiming to study the work environment and risk to man at nanocellulose production sites in the coming years.

Workshop discussions regarding needs and expectations from the pilot, possible future collaborations and a guided visit of the pilot was held by Dr Clarite Azerraf from Melodea. The day was summarized by the hosts of the day Dr Karin Johnson RISE Processum and Dr Anna Svedberg, MoRe Research who concluded that the establishment of the CNC-pilot will be of great importance for the development of new biobased materials in the current transition to a fossil a free environment.

The pilot plant for production of CNC based on Melodea's technology, which has been built on the site in Örnsköldsvik. The plant is the first of its kind in Europe and is an important step for enabling large scale production of crystalline nanocellulose for research and industrial development applications.

The pilot is owned by RISE Processum, Holmen, MoRe Research and Melodea. The facility is supported financially via the County of Västernorrland, Holmen, the Kempestiftelsen, RISE and Önnesjöstiftelsen.

For further information please contact Karin Johnson, tel. 010-516 67 68, email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Inforuta TBT

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RISE Processum has employed Marie-Louise Wallberg as Project Manager in the Innovation System’s group. Marie-Louise has many years’ experience of development work in cooperation with and within industrial companies connected to the pulp and paper industry.

- Processum has had a fantastic development since I left the site about two years ago, says Marie-Louise Wallberg. As Project Manager I look forward to working ”both high and wide” in projects where different competences cooperate. At the same time I hope to be able to keep in touch with the industry and to see that successful results in our projects materialise into reality.

Marie-Louise took her Master 1998 in chemical engineering at Umeå University. Her interest in the pulp and paper industry arose as a result of her summer jobs at Väja pulp and kraft paper mill.

- During my first summer in Väja I worked in the laboratory but during the second summer there I also did multivariate analysis, Marie-Louise continues. I did my theses at SCA Packaging on how to increase testliner strength. Having graduated I was employed as R&D engineer at MoDo R&D which soon after changed to M-real Technology Centre. For nine years I worked with process and product development in close cooperation with mills in Sweden, Germany, Austria and France. During this period I went from research projects to industry reality, which suited me fine. I want to see the real utility of projects.

- In 2007 I was employed as development engineer for coated paper in Husum paper mill, which was a big unit with substantial development resources. It was a very intensive period with mill trials almost every week. Before I left Husum I was also coordinator for process matters for all three paper machines.

- My interest in personnel management caused me to apply for a job as development manager at SEKAB E-Technology, which was very fun and exciting but also tough as we ended up in a situation where we had to lay off people. A change process started during which I focussed on how to run the Biorefinery Demo Plant, BPD, with the target to create opportunities for continued trials in demonstration scale. During that period SP came in to run the BDP business which meant that I moved to SP, today RISE.

- In 2016 I wanted to develop my managerial skills so I left for Örnsköldsvik municipality to work as department manager for Traffic and Park, at the beginning with responsibility for the operation of roads, parks, forest and nature care and later for Traffic comprising public transports, school transportation, parking and taxi service of disabled. It was very awarding but I missed working with research and development.

- I am happy to be back and I must say that Processum has done a fantastic journey in such a short time. Many more employees, more advanced pilot plants and a broader operations content. What I find very special with this site is the willingness to cooperate across company borders. Companies here support each other, knowing that it is important to stick together in order to develop the industry further. I am glad to be back and I hope to contribute to a continued positive development.

- We are very happy that we have Marie-Louise on board at Processum and our group, says Jonas Joelsson, Group Manager Innovation Systems. We have many researchers in Processum and we now have someone with industrial competence and experiences which we, our partners and customers will greatly benefit from.

- In my leisure time I am much of a ”sports mother” as our two children play both football and floorball. Previously I played football myself, but my football shoes have been shelved. We have a dog, a golden retriever, and it is both relaxing and an opportunity for re-charging taking him on forest walks, Marie-Louise ends.


 Zhao bild hemsidaZhao Wang, PhD from Umeå University has joined RISE Processum’s Biotechnology group as Senior Scientist. She will, among other projects, participate in the development work for bacterial nanocellulose which Processum started in April this year.

- In 2007 I began my studies in Chemical Engineering Technology at Beijing Institute of Technology Beijing, China and got my Bachelor of Engineering in 2011,” says Zhao Wang. “During that time I got four years Academic Excellence Award, which is given to the top 10 % of the students every year.”

- I wanted to complete my studies with a Master in Chemistry abroad and therefore went to Umeå University, studied two more years and got my Master in 2013. The dissertation was about pre-treatment and hydrolysis of lignocellulosic biomass for sugars production. One part of the thesis work was to investigate how different temperatures and pressures influenced pelletizing of aspen, birch and spruce and the followed hydrolysis treatment.

- Having finished my Master I continued as PhD student in the same group headed by Professor Leif Jönsson. During my PhD work I led and finished five research projects and published a record of six research papers. The PhD work comprised recalcitrance of wood to biochemical conversion including feedstock properties, pre-treatment, saccharification, and fermentability.

- I detected the chemical composition and structural factors of three woody biomass and GMO plants and evaluated the enzymatic conversion potential of these lignocellulosic materials. The optimal conditions of three biomass pre-treatments, dilute-acid, ionic liquids, and steam explosion, for improving enzymatic conversion of lignocellulose materials at lab or pilot scale were determined and interpreted. The toxicity ranking of ten detected inhibitors in the pre-treatment liquid that caused the inhibition of microorganisms in fermentation of pentose and hexose was established. The important role of protein bioinformatics in the adsorption of individual fungal proteins to lignin preparations with protein assays, enzyme activity assays, and proteomic analysis was discovered.

- When my PhD was approved I was looking for a job and sent an application to Processum, got this job and I am now a member of the Biotechnology team. One of my initial research areas will be in the bacterial nanocellulose project. It is an area with great potential for many applications the future. I will also be involved in single cell projects, in which Processum is since many years very successful.

- It is really encouraging to see that very skilled researchers from other parts of the world find Processum to be an attractive employer with stimulating research projects going on, says Björn Alriksson, Group manager Biotechnology. Zhao Wang has very interesting research experiences bringing in new knowledge to our team and her contributions will be of significant importance in our projects.

Finally, what do you do you are not working?

- For the time being I live in Umeå and I have a lot of friends so I often socialize with them. I also like to travel as well as hiking. On the musical side I play a traditional Chinese string instrument called zither, Zhao ends


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Shubhankar Bhattacharyya is since August employed as Senior Researcher in RISE Processum’s Chemistry group. He has a solid background in chemistry witha PhD from Defence R & D Establishment, Gwalior in India and a three year postdoc position at Luleå University of Technology.

“When I finished my PhD from Gwalior, India in 2015, I was looking for a postdoc position at a Scandinavian university as I wanted to move to a colder climate,” says Shubhankar Bhattacharyya. “I was born in the northeast part of India and I really don’t like temperatures above 30 °C, so when I got a postdoc position at Luleå University of Technology it was easy to accept.Especially as I am very keen on hiking in mountains and national parks.”

Shubhankar Bhattacharyya has a BSc in Chemistry from City College, Calcutta University during 2003-2006 and an MSc during 2006-2008 in Organic Chemistry from D. B. Science College, RTM Nagpur University in India. The PhD studies were done at the Defence R & D Establishment, Gwalior in India and covered development of novel reagents and methodologies for the synthesis of sulphur, oxygen, nitrogen containing heterocycles as well as new methodologies development for alkylation of amines, oxidative amination of aldehydes.

“The postdoc work focused on ionic liquids as well as on lignin characterization. I did e.g. synthesis, characterization and purification of ionic liquids for CO2 capture, storage and conversion, synthesis and characterization of chelated orthoborate ionic liquids for tribological applications as well as functionalization of lignin by chemical modification.”

“My first task at Processum is to participate in the Cellulose PLA project in which I will set a scale up process to isolate lactic acid produced from forest based sugars and polymerise it into a plastic material, poly lactic acid (PLA). The project is an interesting and nice example of cooperation between Processum’s Chemistry and Biotechnology groups.”

“When I am not at work I am very fond of hiking in mountains and wilderness areas and northern Scandinavia has plenty of it. During my years in Luleå I have been hiking in mountains and wilderness areas in Norway, Sweden and Finland and I am looking forward to explore the world heritage High Coast area around Örnsköldsvik,” Shubhankar finishes.

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