Recovering liquid lignin as a renewable biofuel or biopolymer

Authors:

Julian Velez, Adam S. Klett, Mark C. Thies

PI/Advisor:

Mark C. Thies

Program:

Chemical Engineering (College of Engineering and Science)

Abstract:

Lignin is the second most abundant biopolymer on earth and has the potential to become an inexpensive and renewable platform for the production of aromatic chemicals, bio-based materials, and clean biofuels. Isolating lignin from paper mill black liquor in a dry, low-ash state would result in an excellent biofuel with essentially the same energy content as coal. In collaboration with Liquid Lignin Company, we have developed the SLRP® process for recovering from paper mill black liquors a liquid-lignin phase of reduced ash content in the form of a low-viscosity, easy-to-process fluid. The properties of this liquid lignin are such that a very low ash (< 1.0 wt %) lignin can readily be produced from it. In this work, we study the phase behavior and molecular properties of the liquid-lignin phase isolated from papermill black liquor in order to produce a more effective and efficient recovery of the lignin, as well as to produce liquid-lignin fractions with the desired properties for the convertion of lignin into bio-based materials and chemicals.

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