Majed's research integrates biorefineries into Sulfite Pulp Mills

Mon 17 Jun 2024 13:21

Majed Aljaber, after graduating from universities in Syria and Hungary, seeks to continue chemical engineering research. As PhD candidate at Mid Sweden University and Aalto University in Finland he focuses on valorizing wood pulping process side-products into biochemicals, biomaterials and biofuel.

En man i blå skjorta tittar in i kameran och ler.

Can you tell briefly about your background?

I come from Syria and finished my bachelor's in 2015 in chemical engineering, focusing on petroleum and gas, at a Homs university. Despite the conflict and unrest, I managed to graduate.

After graduation, I wanted to strengthen my knowledge in my field and looked for international scholarships. I was accepted for a scholarship in Hungary, at Budapest University of Technology and Economics, and obtained my Master’s degree there in 2019. It was a very valuable experience to do my Master’s in an international environment, which also sparked my research interest.

My Master’s thesis was about preparing biodegradable plastics to enhance sustainability. I wanted to deepen my knowledge and looked for ways to continue my research studies. I was also worried about returning to Syria due to the situation there.

Why did you choose to pursue your PhD at Mid Sweden University?

I came to Sweden in 2019 seeking asylum. I got jobs in Sweden but wanted to stay connected to my specialization. I kept sending applications to companies and universities, then I came across an advertisement from Mid Sweden University looking for PhD student in chemical engineering. I was interviewed for the position and got the job. The research content made me very happy since it aligns with my interests and field.

My position is a double degree PhD, so my four-year work will be distributed between Mid Sweden University and Aalto University in Finland.

What are your research studies about?

My research focuses on wood chemical pulping (particularly sulfite pulping) and how we can apply the biorefinery concept to make the most out of all wood material. We will collaborate with Karlstad University, and several industrial partners to do laboratory and pilot trials about sulfite pulping. 

When producing pulp for paper, the process generates a substantial wastewater stream called spent sulfite liquor (SSL) which contains valuable by-products like lignosulfonates, and sugars. These by-products are not efficiently exploited. Therefore, effective processing of SSL-stream instead of the currently burning treatment enables the production of high value-added products from renewable resources. Biorefinery products can be used in different sectors of life, like transportation biofuels, construction, food, bioplastics, pharmaceuticals etcetera. Implementing this biorefinery approach helps shift from a fossil-based to a bio-based circular economy where a forest is a significant player, consequently ensuring a sustainable future for the next generations.

Over the first three years, we will conduct laboratory and pilot studies at Mid Sweden University. By the final year, modeling and simulation of the collected results will be performed at Aalto University in Finland to investigate the business opportunity of the suggested biorefinery concept.

How do you find Sundsvall as a city to live in?

For me, Sundsvall is perfect. I enjoy that it is a city not too big and busy. Sundsvall offers exactly what I was looking for.

I also received excellent help in finding an apartment and settling in. One week after starting my position, I was able to begin my research. I have been here for a month, and it has been very joyful. I feel surrounded by a welcoming and helpful community.


The page was updated 6/24/2024