Image: Juha-Pekka Ontronen.

Applying User Experience to Revolutionize the Future of Biorefining


The world is facing a global problem with fossil-based materials and waste. The Future of Biorefining learning environment gives everyone a chance to be part of the solution.

Do you believe you can do anything? Imagine if there was a chance to step into a career in biorefining. A chance to be the change and get involved in steering the world towards a fossil-free future.

There actually is a chance for everyone to take part in shaping the future. The journey starts by signing up for the Future of Biorefining course, which is free and open to everyone.

Designed with people and nature in mind

Xamk is the leader of communication and dissemination activities and is responsible for developing and implementing the education platform and its contents in the EU-funded IMPRESS project. As an outcome of the project, selected key technologies are integrated and used to refine renewable resources into value-added products and green chemicals to replace fossil-based products.

The content of the Future of Biorefining course has been developed in cooperation with a group of leading international experts. The idea behind the course is to disseminate the information and knowledge accumulated in the project and to create modern, widely usable educational material.

The course will ensure continuity and impact on people and nature beyond the project’s lifespan. The main thing in development was that it was accessible to users with different backgrounds and levels of expertise.

Involving users in developing learning resources

A chance to reshape the future starts by signing up for Xamk Open Learn, an open digital learning environment. Users can follow step-by-step instructions from the project website on signing in to Open Learn and the Future of Biorefining course from there.

The course consists of three modules, each worth 5 credits: Separation and purification processes in biorefineries, Process design and analysis, and Conversion technologies. Users have a chance to study the course partially or to accomplish the whole, extensively comprehensive course.

The modules consist of several sections, including Mass Transfer, Distillation, Crystallization, Adsorption, Membrane Technology, Simulated Moving Bed, Conceptual Process Design, Life Cycle Assessment, Dawn Technology™, Ray Technology™, Xylitol Fermentation, Lignin Nanospheres, and Activated Carbon Production.

The Future of Biorefining learning environment. Image: Juha-Pekka Ontronen.

Due to the extensive nature of the course, the functionality and quality need to be ensured throughout. Quality and functionality are managed by an evaluation process where voluntary evaluators test the course and give their valuable feedback.

The feedback is gathered with a short survey on the platform after each section. The survey contains three question areas: platform usability, course material content, and further feedback. The feedback is automatically gathered in the platform, and other users cannot access the answers.

Quality management is important for the improvement of the quality and efficiency of the course material. By involving the actual users, ranging from newcomers to experts, it is possible to create learning material that will make a difference.

Further, user retention is ensured by providing an enjoyable experience. Users can track their completion progress, stay motivated by earning badges and test their skills with practice questions. Upon successful completion of the course, users earn a certificate, provided free of charge.

Everyone has a chance to make a difference

The Future of Biorefining course gives everyone a chance to understand the challenges and obstacles that are in the way of a fossil-free future and which actions need to be taken to overcome them. By learning from the professionals, you can become an expert in biorefining and shape the future. A chance to study for free and provide a better future for future generations is no longer a myth but a reality.

Read more about the project and the Future of Biorefining course from the website.

IMPRESS (Integration of efficient downstreaM PRocessEs for Sugars and Sugar alcohols) project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 869993.

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Writer Juha-Pekka Ontronen

Ontronen, M.Sc., works at Xamk FiberLaboratory as a Project Specialist.