"I am both happy and proud to be a part of the transition that is now taking place in the industry"
The decision was taken - Martin Kihlman’s goal was to work and do research in the pharmaceutical industry, which led him to start studying chemistry. During his studies, he met Lars Stigsson (entrepreneur, chemist, and founder of SunPine, Sweden) who introduced to him all the possibilities of the forest. Inspired by the meeting, Kihlman decided to change direction. Today, he is active in the process industry and involved in development projects that all aim for more "green products" of customers with globally strong brands and a strong focus on sustainability.
The global goals for sustainable development are today on the agenda of all the companies that realize what it takes to have a role in the market in the future. That requires experts like Martin Kihlman. Kihlman has always been interested in chemistry and developing and improving processes further. The development that is taking place today in the process industry towards renewable and sustainable alternatives is extremely exciting and inspiring. Today, he really knows that what he does matters and that drives him in his work.
What made you rethink?
“Lars involved me in a project that aimed to extract more from the forest. I was inspired by his work, ideas and all the possibilities we have with the forest ," says Kihlman, well aware that the market demands need more sustainable solutions.
The climate speaks for itself and Kihlman wants to be involved and influence the development of future technologies, which is possible in his role as process engineer at AFRY. Clean and environmentally friendly technologies and industrial processes are all important ways to facilitate sustainable development.
“What makes the role as a process engineer so interesting is the opportunity to design completely new processes from scratch - or to develop and improve existing processes for our customers. In the role as a process engineer, there is a real opportunity to be involved and contribute towards more sustainable solutions. The biorefinery sector is really exciting, as today the incredible development towards more renewable products not only benefits the environment but also creates added value for our customers,” says Kihlman.
AFRY often has the privilege to be involved in many large investment projects aimed at developing new processes for more sustainable production for various industries. As the earth's resources are consumed, the climate changes and our health is affected – leading industries to explore fossil-free solutions. This requires a combination of specialist knowledge and the development of new technology.
“I am driven by the challenge of being able to influence in a larger perspective. Developing new methods for our customers together with team members with different skills is extremely inspiring,” says Kihlman.
Kihlman’s interest in organic chemistry is easy to understand if you know that carbon is the prerequisite for life and that all living organisms contain carbon. Without the properties of carbon, there would probably not have been life on earth because no other element can replace carbon.
Without going too deep into the chemistry of carbon, almost all products that humans use today contain carbon. This includes everything from natural woods, clothes, and paper, to artificial materials such as plastic. Many of the fuels today contain coal - both as an energy source to heat our houses or to refuel our cars. One of today's major environmental problems is the carbon dioxide content in the atmosphere - and the increasing carbon dioxide content is caused, among other things, by the combustion of fuels that contain carbon.
This is where you see the value of specialist knowledge like Khilman’s, with the insight and drive required to succeed in changing and developing new methods. With commitment and willingness to find solutions to transform today's fossil-based materials into more sustainable materials that do not endanger our environment and our health as they do today.
Working with issues like this requires a lot of courage, says Kihlman:
“Many of the projects I work with today require that you both dare and have the will to take on things that you may not have considered or have done before. In turn, that means that you are constantly evolving, and for me, it is an important factor for well-being”, says Kihlman.
Kihlman continues to explain, “As a person, I am both structured and problem-solving-oriented, and these are qualities I see as valuable in the work I do as a process engineer because you are constantly faced with new challenges.”
Kihlman really thrives in his role, all the challenges and the opportunities the forest brings for future industries:
“Apart from a place that many people enjoy, which also has a good effect on our general well-being, the forest is so much more than traditional paper and pulp. If we manage to take care of the raw material from the forest with sustainable solutions, we can really make a difference to our environment. I am both happy and proud to be a part of the change that is now happening within the industry,” Kihlman concludes.