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Lignin from Biomass to Co-Products

PIs: Blake Simmons/Harvey Blanch, JBEI
KEY COLLABORATORS: Wolf Frommer, Jean-Loup Faulon, Bradley Holmes, Rajat Sapra, JBEI

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APPLICATION OF TECHNOLOGY:

  • Convert lignin from sustainable biomass to high value products

ADVANTAGES:

  • Produce high value products without the need for petroleum
  • Improve biofuels cost effectiveness by utilizing lignin to produce high value co-products
  • Produce products through a greener manufacturing process

ABSTRACT:

Development of a process that can efficiently convert lignin remains one of the most elusive issues associated with biomass conversion to biofuels. Most of the current biorefining strategies involve the burning of lignin to recover heat or the production of lignin in a form suitable for burning for residential heating. Given the highly complex, aromatic nature of lignin, it is an extremely attractive candidate for converting into co-products with an inherent value that may help offset the overall production costs of biofuels. We propose to investigate different conversion technologies to produce targeted lignin co-products through biochemical and chemical conversion, as well as modifying the biosynthetic pathway of lignin to produce a more easily processed form. One intriguing co-product conversion process is found in the development of lightweight, flame retardant materials derived from lignin (“bio-bakelite”) that could have multiple applications in the commercial sector. Another is the development of other high-strength lignin fillers for composite materials.

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