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Lignin: The Latest Developments in the Biorefinery World

lignin

This class of polymers may just overtake petroleum as the principal agent in the chemical industry: lignin. A natural, plant-based polymer, lignin ascribes to 30% of lignocellulose biomass. For context, lignocellulose biopolymers are responsible for plant structure and support. Lignin, as a largely untapped renewable resource, has set the industry ablaze in its possibilities, even eclipsing the biorefinery king: petroleum. 

How Lignin Changes Things

For decades, petroleum has reigned supreme in the biorefinery realm. However, petroleum carries quite the downfall: it’s not a renewable resource. Lignin, which occurs naturally in plants, takes this issue out of the equation. 

Lignin isn’t some new discovery. Researchers unraveled black liquor’s kraft lignin properties all the way back in the 1940s. In fact, the paper industry produces roughly 50 million tons of lignin across the globe each year. And it comes about as a by-product. 

The wood pulp process creates a wealth of lignin that goes almost entirely unused. When debarked wood chips and straw undergo boiling with sodium hydroxide, the fibrous cellulose lignin leftovers form into a black liquor. For the most part, that black liquor doesn’t see any further material use; 98% of it ends up burned. However, some in the world of biorefinery are taking note of its many uses as a resource. 

A Resource With Promise

The non-toxic, renewable, and economical properties of lignin are now coming to light, especially given the various green initiatives taking root around the globe. Experts in biorefinery and other disciplines believe that lignin will be a polymer with lasting effects in our daily lives—through our everyday products. 

Industry uses for lignin already come in the form of foam insulation and wood plaster. The polymer has also made inroads in pesticide and textile applications as a dispersant. This new role for lignin may extend to the drywall and concrete industries sooner rather than later. In the future, it is also expected to oust petroleum-made chemicals in the thermoplastic, carbon fiber, and asphalt spheres as well. 

Your Resource for Pulp and Paper Products

Lignin isn’t the only potential product solution on the scene: ProcessBarron is as well. And we’ve been here for quite a while. Our expertise in the arena of pulp and paper extends back decades. Put our premier products and unmatched customer service to good use. 
In need of extensive systems solutions? Contact a representative close to your area for all your pulp and paper needs, from collection to disposal. Plus, you can even reach out to us for a quote on our products!