APPLICATIONS OF TECHNOLOGY:
- Bioenergy industries
- Lignin industries
- Agricultural industry
- Pulp, paper manufacturing
- Reduces up to 50% of waste lignin
- Increases value of waste lignin
- Improves cell wall properties
Researchers at the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) have developed a technology that boosts the value of waste lignin derived from biomass processing by enabling waste lignin to trap valuable molecules during plant development and cell wall formation. This invention enhances the value of lignin waste, as the valuable molecules can then be recovered downstream. These valuable compounds include aromatics that could be converted into high value molecules, which are, currently, mostly produced from petroleum products.
The JBEI approach changes the composition of lignin, making it “shavable,” using the incorporation of novel monolignols. Valuable compounds can then be weakly linked to the extremities of lignin chains so they are accessible to recovery. Depending on the techniques employed and the incorporation of these novel monolignols, the amount of valuable chemicals could represent up to 50% of the lignin content.
Lignin represents approximately 25% of plant biomass. During biomass processing, lignin is separated from other valuable parts of the plant such as sugar, and has little value beyond being burned to create energy. Currently, few solutions are available to make waste lignin more valuable. Some technologies convert or blend it into low-value products such as concrete, asphalt, carbon fibers, board binders, plastics, and grease. The new JBEI technology could help solve the major challenge of massive amounts of low-value waste lignin produced by some industries, while providing a source of desired chemicals for other industries.
DEVELOPMENT STAGE: Proven principle
STATUS: Issued U. S. Patent 10,358,651. Available for licensing or collaborative research.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Aymerick Eudes, Yan Liang, Prajakta Mitra, and Dominique Loque, “Lignin Bioengineering.” Current Opinion in Biotechnology 2014, 26:189-198.
REFERENCE NUMBER: 2013-139