I’m Mario A., and I’m a Biosystems engineering student. I’m from Sterling Heights, MI, and I’m excited to say this will be my first time in Europe. My academic goal for this trip is to learn more about renewable energy and it’s socioeconomic effects in different areas of the world by being physically present in the work environment and interacting with industry professionals. As for career interests, I believe studying abroad will open certain opportunities such as internships and connections abroad and provide a unique edge to my résumé. Other than that, I know I’ll have a great time abroad experiencing new cultures.
Saturday, May 17th
In the morning, we had a very filling breakfast at the professors’ cabin. Afterwards, we loaded the cars and marked our next destination—Ajtte, the Sámi Museum in Jokkmokk. The Sámi name of Jokkmokk means “River’s Curve”, due to the meandering river that runs through it. (1) It’s a small town with a population of approximately 3,000. (3) We stopped at the point where we entered the Arctic Circle. Once we arrived, we stopped at the gift shop to purchase some gifts for our friends or family back home or for ourselves. From there, we toured the museum and encountered some astonishing artifacts. There were old tools, clothes, and weapons on display that the Sámi used to survive.
Afterwards, we had lunch, restocked on snacks, and drove about an hour north to the Muddus National Park. We hiked on a trail through the forest to see the waterfall. We passed a couple of the smaller ones and couldn’t deny the 14km round-trip challenge to see the largest one in the area. The weather conditions were ideal. It wasn’t bone-chilling cold, although some of the group had drenched feet. However, the sight of the waterfall made all of the effort worthwhile.
The day was concluded with a bonfire picnic on the riverbank. Among the lunch meats, juices, and chips was reindeer meat to complete our experience. The Sámi people have used reindeer for food, clothing, trade (reindeer as a form of money), and labor since the 17th century. (3)
Sunday, May 18th
The morning was quite relaxed as we had the opportunity to catch up on some sleep. In the afternoon, we drove to Storforsen to have lunch with the PhD students and professors of LTU (Luleå University of Technology). There were also waterfalls here but much less steep, but magnificent nonetheless. The Frisbee from the sports store proved to be a good purchase. We caught up with the students and learned more about their personal lives, areas of research, and plans for the future.
Leonidas Matsakas, a LTU PhD student from Greece shared his background and why he moved to LTU, the places he visited in Europe, and offered recommendations of cities for the future European travelers. Here is a link to one of his publications.
After our friends parted, we drove back to the cabins to finish up our analytical response papers and prepare for our final days in Sweden.
Monday, May 19th
Our morning began with a lecture from Robert Nilsson on lipid production by non-conventional yeast. Oleaginous microorganisms such as microalgae, bacteria, fungi and yeasts are an attractive alternative to higher plants for lipid production, since their production does not require agricultural land, avoiding displacement of food production. (4) We learned about research optimizing this technology as well.
Afterwards, we visited SunPine, a second-generation biofuel company located in Piteå, Sweden. The main product they produce is the SunPine crude tall diesel. A final refinery process step including hydrogenation treatment converts the SunPine crude tall diesel to a first class renewable diesel fuel with a very low carbon footprint and excellent well to wheel efficiency. (5) We saw the machines that did this processing. They were expanding and updating the plant—the first of its kind in the world. They are unique because they fractionate the crude tall oil and after-treatment to high-quality diesel. (6) The plant tour was very interesting and the tour guide was engaging.
Afterwards, stopped by the beach then went back to the camp and cooked spaghetti with meatballs and for dessert…Surströmming otherwise known as Pickled Herring–a salty, cultured way to end our wonderful time in Sweden.
Our last night in Sweden. Hopefully, this isn’t goodbye, but see you later. Hej då Sweden and Hallo Germany.
1. Jokkmokk. (n.d.). definition/meaning. Retrieved May 23, 2014, from http://www.omnilexica.com/?q=jokkmokk
2. Jokkmokk: Live! | Jokkmokk Winter Market 2014. (n.d.). Jokkmokk Live Jokkmokk Winter Market 2014 RSS. Retrieved May 23, 2014, from http://live.jokkmokk.com
3. Foster, J. (n.d.). Reindeer Herding in Norway. Reindeer Herding in Norway. Retrieved May 23, 2014, from http://www.utexas.edu/courses/sami/diehtu/siida/herding/herding-nr.htm
4. Santamauro, F. (2014, March 4). Low-cost lipid production by an oleaginous yeast cultured in non-sterile conditions using model waste resources. Biotechnology for Biofuels. Retrieved May 23, 2014, from http://www.biotechnologyforbiofuels.com/content/7/1/34
5. Sunpine AB. (n.d.). Sunpine AB. Retrieved May 23, 2014, from http://www.sunpine.se
6. “Construction of Green Diesel.” Construction of Green Diesel. SunPine AB, n.d. Web. 22 May 2014.