Maria Sandberg receives Paper Province Award 2022
This year’s Paper Province Award goes to Maria Sandberg, Associate Professor of Environmental and Energy Systems at Karlstad University. Her research builds bridges between the research and business worlds, and paves the way for new value-added materials and products in the circular forest bioeconomy, created from residues and waste of the mills.
“It feels very honourable and fun! My research is about bioeconomy, so it is truly great to be recognised for that,” says Maria Sandberg.
The motivation for the Paper Province Award highlights that Maria Sandberg’s research connects academia and the industry. Among other things, she is working on a research project to develop products made from forest-based residues.
By harnessing residues, in this case industrial excess sludge, and converting it into biochar for use as fertiliser, Maria and her team aim to contribute to the circular economy.
This year the prize was awarded for the fifth time at the Connected by Roots event, held in Karlstad, Sweden. The aim of the award is to recognise innovation, development and commercialisation of new services or products that are relevant to the forest-based bioeconomy and to Paper Province members, and thereby promote growth and entrepreneurship.
The jury presented Maria Sandberg with a 3D-printed trophy, a diploma, and a cheque for SEK 25 000.
“I am thinking of buying an electric bicycle with the prize money. Or visit my daughter who is working in the Faroe Islands in the spring,” says Maria Sandberg.
The motivation in full
This year’s award winner is a person who is a sludge-focused role model. Does that sound cryptic?
The bridges built between the worlds of research and business pave the way for new value-added materials and products in the circular forest bioeconomy, created from residues and waste of the mills.
This person’s research has the potential to translate into significant value, and has therefore won a place in the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences’ 100 list for 2022.
This year’s award winner is active and engaged in several different environments: the lab, the business meeting room, the forest, the classroom, and the elegant rooms of the Academy in Stockholm.
The laureate aims for new knowledge created in her research group to be of practical use in order to contribute towards sustainable development through innovations in existing and new companies, through applied cooperation projects and, not least, through well-educated and committed students.
Much more could be said about this year’s award winner, but let us just mention two specific examples where her research has been crowned with success:
Forestry residues in the form of excess sludge has been put to use as building blocks in the production of fossil-free and biodegradable plastics, where these residues give rise to new materials that provide added value in the circular bioeconomy.
The second example is the reprocessing of excess sludge by hydrothermal carbonization to achieve a higher calorific value. This material, hydrochar, contains important nutrients and has proven to be a suitable growing medium for forest plants, which makes it a contributor to the circular forest bioeconomy.
The Paper Province Award 2022 is awarded to Maria Sandberg, Associate Professor of Environmental and Energy Systems at Karlstad University.