Biomass refining constitutes the sustainable processing of biomass into a spectrum of marketable products and energy. The key technological contents of the major is treatment of biomass with tailored mechanical, chemical, biochemical and thermochemical processes leading to selective and efficient fractionation of the biomass components into functional fractions, and further refining of the fractions to fibres, polymers, chemical compounds and fuels or their reactants. The focus point of the major is the physiological function and structure of plants as well as the reactivity of the chemical components of lignocellulosic biomass in the conversion processes. Great attention is paid to process integration modelling, taking into account recycling and waste management. This includes the development of an integrated, rational and transparent evaluation framework for sustainable assessments, such as Life Cycle Assessments (LCA).
Graduates of the programme will have achieved the key scientific and professional working methods of their area of specialisation and will be able to continuously deepen their knowledge by acquiring, evaluating and processing scientific, technical and professional information. They will gain the knowledge and skills to understand the challenges of the field from the point of view of users and technical and social systems, as well as from that of the environment and be able to use this knowledge in developing new solutions, also as members of multidisciplinary teams.
As a graduate of the programme, you will have the skills and knowledge to work as pacesetter of your field in various managerial, planning and research duties serving industry or related stakeholders, the scientific community or public sector.
After graduating from the major Biomass Refining, you:
- are able to describe the global availability of biomass resources and can formulate scientifically justified arguments on the sustainable use of biomass.
- can give an overall description of biomass structure, from macro-structural aspects to microscopic and molecular level the emphasis being on the plant cell wall architecture and the structure and interactions of lignocellulosic components (cellulose, lignin, hemicelluloses, resins and inorganic compounds).
- can identify the principal cellular organisms relevant in biomass refining and describe and apply the principles and practices in (bio)catalysis and explain how biosynthesis of plant cell wall constituents and cellular metabolites proceeds.
- can model and simulate mass and energy phenomena in multiphase systems and are able to calculate material and energy balances of complex systems.
- have thorough knowledge of the separation methods used in biomass refining, and based on this knowledge can formulate suggestions for practical applications.
- can predict and describe chemical reactions of biomass components in different conditions and can design and perform experiments to test the hypotheses.
- can give detailed scientific and technical descriptions on the industrial-scale mechanical, thermo-chemical, chemical, and biochemical methods for biomass fractionation into platforms (carbohydrates, lignin, extractives).
- are able to suggest feasible and sustainable production schemes for value-added products from the platforms, including LCA analysis of the products.
- can perform biomass fractionation experiments in practice and can use the most relevant analytical methods and equipment for analysing and characterising the products.
- demonstrate an understanding of societal, economical, and environmental effects of engineering solutions.
Structure of studies
Two years full-time Master’s programme of 120 ECTS credits.
- 65 cr major dependent studies
- 30 cr Master’s thesis
- 25 cr electives
Major or specialization fields
The application target defines the major, please choose the major/application target carefully.
Students are required to complete a Master's thesis, which is a research assignment with a workload corresponding to 30 ECTS credits. Master's theses are typically performed in cooperation with the industry or in the research project(s) of the department(s).
The study environment in the programme is strongly international and studies are conducted in multicultural groups. The international atmosphere shows in the everyday life at the school, where 37 percent of academic personnel is from abroad. Our teaching methods support networking with people from diverse backgrounds. Aalto University offers many possibilities for you to develop your global competence by:
- completing part of the degree abroad, for example, a minor, in an international partner university as an exchange student
- choosing courses with an intercultural approach, learning foreign languages and/or becoming a student tutor for international students
- conducting practical training or Master’s thesis outside Finland
- taking summer courses abroad
- several funding options available for internationalization
Corporate and other collaboration
One of the strengths of this Master’s programme is close cooperation with the industry: from industry assignments, projects in courses and special courses with teachers from the industry to conducting your Master’s thesis in a company. Furthermore, field trips and excursions to companies and research institutes of the field give new perspectives to studying. We recommend you to take part in these activities to enhance your position in the international job market. Many of the Finnish companies in the field operate internationally. In addition, departments have academic co-operation with high-quality international universities and organisations.
You can include multidisciplinary studies to your degree by choosing courses from fields of arts and business within Aalto University. You can even take courses from other Finnish universities via The Flexible Study Right Agreement (JOO).
School of Chemical Engineering
Major Biomass Refining is a part of the Master's Programme in Chemical, Biochemical and Materials Engineering at the School of Chemical Engineering. The School of Chemical Engineering combines natural sciences and engineering in a unique way. This allows the results of our research to be refined a long way and put into practice as ready products and processes. Each innovation secures both our renewable and non-renewable natural resources for the future.
This school offers programs in:
Last updated November 16, 2018