Several of the traditionally material-oriented projects also have a strong relation to the interest in renewable resources in general. Renewable energy is often synonymous to the utilisation of crops of different types which in turn is strongly linked to agriculture and forestry. A unified view on the resources that e.g. farming produce and require to maintain its sustainable development implies good opportunities to improve the utilisation of resources, e.g. through minimised transports. Wise choices of crop rotation schemes can e.g. contribute to a better utilisation of the soil, less need of fertilizers and less use of pesticides. Knowledge about waste problems in other segments of society may enable recycling of residual products as replacement for artificial fertilizers. Growing of rape results in both seed cake and oil and the former is an excellent protein source for most animals. Vegetable oils extracted from rape seed, linseed, hemp, sunflower, camelina, among others, can, in addition to be used as food or in paints and varnishes, be transesterified to methyl esters. Methyl esters in general are very good solvents but in most cases they are used as biodiesel. Another example is hemp which normally is grown for its strong and durable fibres. Most of the plant, however, is made up of wood-like short fibres that can be either be burnt in heaters, used as an easily compostable animal bedding or be digested to biogas.
A number of on-going projects where Materials Technology is presently involved are:
- Energiparken within the project Landskapsparken at Wij Trädgårdar in Ockelbo
- BiogasMitt, the regional effort to promote and develop biogas production and use in Gävleborg and Dalarna.
- BioMobil, a concept for future vehicular propulsion by conversion of cellulosic biomass to sugar and the use of fuel cells. The consortium presently involves KTH, SLU, Uppsala University and the University of Gävle.