Lignin is the natural glue in plants to provide its strength and resistance against microbial decay and playsan important role in the water transport in the plant's vascular tissue. Through its aromatic structure andfunctionalities, lignin exhibits a variety of properties serving as a renewable feedstock for the production ofbiofuels, materials and bio-based aromatic specialty chemicals. Moreover, the global limitation of fossilpetrochemical resources should increase the awareness that lignin represents the only available largevolume source of aromatics apart from fossil based resources, and which is not in direct competition withthe food production. Therefore lignin has the potential to become a future raw material for industry.However, as a co-product of the pulp & paper industry and cellulosic ethanol production, the potential oflignin is currently largely underexploited, mainly due to its complex structure.Currently, the base case for lignin side streams is to use it simply as an internal energy source in the pulpingand biorefinery industries. The need for cost-effective and sustainable production of 2nd generation sugarstreams for the biotech industry, as well as improvements in energy efficiency (leading to a lignin surplus),is driving the urgently look for novel economic valorisation of lignin. The industry is more and moreconvinced that economic valorisation of this aromatic side stream is absolutely essential to make theprocessing of lignocellulosic feedstocks market competitive. To unlock the potential of lignin, aninterdisciplinary and cross sectorial approach is needed by grouping relevant expertises within one pan-European network to tackle and overcome the challenges faced in industrial lignin valorisation. LignoCOSTbrings together partners with outstanding and complementary expertises, active over the whole ligninvalue chain, including plant breeding, lignin production, characterization, fractionation, modification,depolymerization and application.The main objective of LignoCOST is to establish a sound network covering the entire value chain in whichrelevant information will be produced with a focus on lignin valorisation to stimulate the increase ofsustainable industrial applications. Only when working together this information can be gathered to coverthe technical, non-technical, environmental and socio-economic implications of the most promising ligninvalue chains.LignoCOST started in October 2018 with about 120 participants coming from 33 countries. In January2020 LignoCOST consists of more than 250 participants representing 43 countries from Europe, Canada,US, New Zealand, and South Africa. This COST network gains a lot of attention from the different valuechain actors interesting in lignin valorisation. Not only research organisations, but also companies areconnected in this network. Currently, over 20 companies are participating to this network. LignoCOSTorganised several networking events, over 20 short term scientific missions, and stimulate the cooperationbetween partners resulting in joint publications, conference presentations and posters.In this presentation the status, progress and achievements of LignoCOST will be presented.
COST Action LignoCOST (CA17128) is supported by COST (European Cooperation in Science andTechnology), in promoting interaction, exchange of knowledge and collaborations in the field of ligninvalorisation. More information can be found at www.lignocost.eu.