Symposium SB08: Bio-Based Polymers and Composites for Sustainable Manufacturing
Symposium DS04: Accelerating Data-Driven Materials Research for Energy Applications

Symposium SB08: Bio-Based Polymers and Composites for Sustainable Manufacturing

Mitra Ganewatta, Ingevity Corporation, University of South Carolina, Sandia National Laboratories

Industry–Academic Partnerships: Valorizing Lignin Through De-Aromatization and COOH Functionalization

Written by Mruganka Parasnis

Commercial lignin can improve the economic viability of lignocellulosic biorefineries. Depolymerization of lignin monomers is not viable. A new approach is chelator mediated by Fenton chemistry. In Mitra Ganewatta’s work, lignin was obtained from paper pulp and was sulphonated to different polymer products used in agriculture in making powders, granules, etc. The mechanism of action is due to the ionic repulsion polymers of the coated particles that eventually undergo steric stabilization. Sandia labs produce oxidized lignin and a CMF process optimization where the aromaticity, molecular weight and COOH functionality was controlled. Ingevity Corporation tested the products on a large scale and technoeconomic analysis was performed for commercial application. Researchers at the University of South Carolina studied heavy metal removal for different heavy metals such as Co, Cu, and Zn. Thus, Fenton chemistry was optimized successfully for tailoring -COOH groups and molecular weight. The lignin feedstock purity was critical for high performance.

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