Master's Programme in Chemical, Biochemical and Materials Engineering - Biomass Refining
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.
Language of instruction
English. Possibility to complete some courses in Finnish/Swedish.
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.
Post-graduate study options
Eligibility for doctoral studies.
Tuition fees and scholarships
Non-EU/EEA students selected to the study option will be charged a tuition fee of €15000 per academic year. They are eligible to apply for scholarships awarded from the Aalto University Scholarship programme. Further information is available on Scholarships and Tuition Fees page (aalto.fi).
Content of studies
Biomass Refining – Making bioeconomy real
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 year full-time Master’s programme of 120 ECTS credits.
- 65 cr major dependent studies
- 30 cr Master’s thesis
- 25 cr electives
You can find more information about major dependent studies and the degree on Into pages.
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 on the school, where 37 percentage 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 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.
Programme-specific admission requirements
Applicants to the programme must first meet the general eligibility and language requirements that are common to all Master's programmes in Science and Technology.
The following principles apply during the academic evaluation of eligible applications. These principles are revised annually.
The student selection process is competitive. The applicant’s suitability for the programme is evaluated. The best applicants are granted admission to the programme. The selection of students is primarily based on the application documents. Not all eligible applicants will necessarily be admitted, CHEM Master’s programme does not have a minimum quota to be fulfilled.
The programmes reserve the right to interview the applicants if it is necessary to clarify the applicant’s motivation or other information in the application.
Biomass Refining specific criteria for academic evaluation
1. Content of the previous degree
B.Sc or equivalent degree of a relevant field in the natural sciences or engineering.
Relevant degrees are e.g. in the fields of chemistry, biotechnology or chemical engineering or its subfields, such as process systems engineering, polymer engineering, food engineering or pulp and paper engineering.
The major applies chemistry, chemical engineering, and biotechnology in processing of biomass and therefore adequate knowledge and skills in chemistry are a mandatory prerequisite for the studies. Studies in general chemistry, advanced organic and polymer chemistry and practical experience gained in laboratory work in all fields of chemistry (inorganic, organic, polymer and physical chemistry) are highly appreciated.
This Master’s programme should provide genuinely new knowledge and enhance the career prospects of the applicant. Thus, applicants who already have a Master’s degree in the closely related field will only be accepted onto the programme for very specific reasons. These reasons must be stated in the application.
2. Study success
The applicant's success in previous studies (those that give basis for applying into the programme) will be evaluated based on the grade point average (GPA) and results in key courses. Preference is given to students with a GPA average equivalent to minimum of 3.0 (on a scale 5.0 max).
The time taken to complete previous studies will also be taken into account. Applicants, who have previously studied at Aalto University, e.g. as exchange students, will also be evaluated according to the grades in those studies and the number of credits obtained in comparison to the time taken for completion.
3. Recognition and quality of the home university
The applicant's previous degree will be evaluated based on the recognition and quality of the university.
4. Motivation and commitment
The applicant must demonstrate genuine motivation (motivation letter, max. 1 page) to study the chosen field and be committed to full-time studies with a plan to complete the Master's degree in two years’ time. The applicant is asked to inform if applicant has a study right to another master or doctoral programme.
5. Language proficiency
The studies are conducted fully in English. The applicant must meet the mandatory language requirements of Aalto University. Student must be able to demonstrate that he/she is able to effectively use English as a working language.
6. Recommendation letter
Max. two recommendation letters can be attached to the application. Recommendation letter should be in English written by professor. It can be original letter or certified copy of it.
7. Other relevant achievements
The applicant's other relevant achievements may be considered if documented in the application.
These can be, for example:
- experience of work in the field of the programme
- participation in scientific research which has led to publications, posters
- for applicants whose Bachelor's degree is from a Finnish university of applied sciences, prior completion of required complementary studies with good grades (transcript required)
- other previous studies (transcript required)
Students admitted to the Master's Programme in Chemical, Biochemical and Materials Engineering may be required to take complementary studies, max 20 credits. Complementary studies may not be included in the degree of Master of Science (Tech).
The content and number of the complementary courses depend on your previous studies. The complementary studies will be set latest in September.
For enquiries regarding the application process, application documents and language tests, please contact [email protected]
For enquiries regarding the content of programme and studies at the School of Chemical Engineering, please contact Learning Services of Aalto University School of Chemical Engineering, [email protected]