Lignin is a major component of lignocellulosic crops, which are abundantly available on Earth. Wageningen Food & Biobased Research conducts intensive research into the possibilities for using lignin in materials and biochemicals, and has set up a special lignin platform with the purpose of reinforcing cooperation in the lignin sector.
Lignin is the woody substance which gives plants their firmness. It is the largest source of bioaromatics in the world and a major source of energy.
Fascinating building block
Lignin is a biopolymer made up of aromatic building blocks which are cross-linked by carbon and ether linkages It is produced as a waste stream in many industrial processes, such as during the pulping of wood for cellulose production and in the production of bioethanol from lignocellulose. This lignin is readily available and is therefore a particularly interesting source of aromatics. While lignin is currently primarily used as a source of energy, Wageningen Food & Biobased Research is investigating the potential for its use in materials (adhesives, resins), plastics (as an additive or an ingredient) and aromatic biochemicals. Using lignin for value added applications would allow us to make better use of biomass and make biorefining more economically attractive.
Wageningen Food & Biobased Research has set up a platform for lignin as we see it as a particularly interesting biobased resource. Within this platform, Wageningen Food & Biobased Research works together with other Dutch knowledge institutions as well as various industries on research and application regarding lignin. There are also various international research programmes in which Wageningen University & Research participates with the goal to extract lignin from lignocellulosic crops, determine its qualities and develop high-value applications in the best possible way.
Analysis in pilots
Wageningen Food & Biobased Research can carry out lignin extraction from various types of crops upon request. We can achieve this on a laboratory scale (0.1-4 L) and a pilot scale (200 L). We work with various technologies and can also carry out isolation and purification. The extracted lignin can be extensively characterised with standard protocols. For application research, we measure the relevant properties of the lignin and test it on laboratory scale in products such as plywood and fibreboard, (bio)polymers, coatings and foams. We carry out these analyses on our own initiative as well as on request.