What is lignin?
Lignin is nature’s own adhesive. It is found in the cell walls of all plants and binds the fibers together and provides strength. The more lignin, the stronger the plant. Trees consist of 20-30 percent lignin. This is what allows them to grow up to be, in some cases, over a hundred meters high.
Lignin can be used, for example, in the replacement of plastic, fuel, asphalt, batteries, carbon fiber, in building and construction materials and as a fire and UV protection.
Lignin is an underutilized raw material, but the use of it is increasing. Projects are ongoing and one example is to replace the binder in asphalt from bitumen to lignin, trials are being made in both smaller and larger scale.
Thanks to lignin, the use of oil and coal may decrease in the future and contribute to a lower carbon footprint
Maximum use of the tree
As it stands today, lignin is a by-product of paper and pulp production. For every ton of pulp produced, 200 kg of lignin can be extracted. The lignin is currently used almost exclusively as internal fuel but has the potential to be refined into bio-based products with significantly higher value, such as aviation fuel or carbon fiber for batteries or gas purification.
Lignin can be extracted with different processes where LignoBoost is the one with full commercial scale. The process was developed in collaboration with RISE, Chalmers and now the IP is owned by Valmet. Lignin can also be produced using other processes.