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SCA’s Christian Kugge scoops Gunnar Sundblad Research Foundation's 2021 Competence Development Award

In Sweden, researcher Christian Kugge from the R&D Centre of forest industry major SCA has been selected to receive the Gunnar Sundblad Research Foundation "Competence Development Award" for 2021. He is being awarded the prize for his ambition to enhance the efficiency of the process to convert lignin from the forest into high added-value chemicals and advanced biofuels.

SCA’s researcher Christian Kugge is to receive the Gunnar Sundblad Research Foundation award of SEK 700 000 (≈ EUR 68 700) to be presented by HM King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden at a virtual ceremony on April 20, 2021. The prize money will be used for the exchange of knowledge internationally and in Sweden about the process- and product development within Swedish forest industries (photo courtesy SCA).

The prize money is SEK 700 000 (≈ EUR 68 700) and will be presented by HM King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden at a virtual ceremony on April 20, 2021. The prize money will be used for the exchange of knowledge internationally and in Sweden about the process- and product development within Swedish forest industries.

Valourize lignin from black liquor

The commendation for the award is as follows: “By combining fundamental catalysis with applied research in cooperation with world-class researchers, Christian Kugge is creating new opportunities for the conversion of the forest industry residual stream, lignin. Accordingly, the potential of lignin is increased as a source of raw materials for new materials and biofuels.”

For SCA, the research and knowledge from Christian Kugge are important not least within the framework of the plans to build a new biorefinery adjacent to its Östrand pulp mill.

The residual product black liquor is a fundamental element of this development work. Black liquor contains lignin, which is currently burned for energy.

The goal of Christian’s research is to extract a part of the lignin and convert it into a high added-value raw material for fuel for the automotive and aerospace industries.

Exchange with RMIT

The prize will allow Christian Kugge, for instance, to gain world-leading knowledge through a research exchange with Australia. Christian will gain new knowledge in the upcoming exchange with the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) in Australia.

At RMIT, Professors Karen Wilson and Adam Lee recently published a breakthrough article in the area of cascade catalysis, which is a key step in the processing chain.

Due to the pandemic, the sights are set on conducting the exchange with Australia in the spring of 2022.

Of course, working with the best in this field is highly stimulating! It is important to create the combination of applied research provided by us at SCA with the fundamental research at RMIT to enable strong research results. I am looking forward to gaining access to an advanced equipment park and being able to build further on the network between researchers in Australia and Sweden, said Christian Kugge.

Australia is not a new acquaintanceship for Christian Kugge. He has lived and worked as a researcher in Canberra and Melbourne before returning to Sweden, where he works at SCA in Sundsvall, Sweden.

A bonus is that RMIT also sponsors trainee exchanges and this will hopefully also lead to increased collaboration between SCA and the research activities in Australia.

In addition to the international exchange, part of the prize money is also earmarked for building up a network in Sweden. It will promote the Swedish forest products industries’ efforts to develop their research into fossil-free energy from forest raw material. This will include researchers from several Swedish universities.

Gunnar Sundblad Research Foundation

The Gunnar Sundblad Research Foundation’s annual Competence Development Award with an award sum of SEK 700 000 has been presented since 2007. The Board of the Foundation is appointed by the Swedish Forest Industries. Its objective is to promote the development of the Swedish pulp and paper industries’ transition toward new and improved products and services.

Initiatives involving research in new environments inside or outside of Sweden are welcome. The laureate can be a research manager, a researcher, or a research student and must be affiliated to a university, research institute, or company in Sweden. The award is administered by the laureate’s employer.

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