Technological Centre

Lignocellulosic materials research: adding value to the wood and paper industry

In recent decades, the need for a new economic and social model, eco-sustainable and without dependence on fossil resources has become increasingly important.

Forest resources, green and renewable, acquire a renewed protagonism.

CETIM are experts in formulation and optimization of wood-derived materials.

In the European economy, bio-based industries are considered essential for the transition towards a circular and sustainable economy. Therefore, in 2015, CETIM bet on a new line of research based on lignocellulosic materials, focused on the valorization of lignin and cellulose as eco-sustainable materials with high added value. Since its creation, our R&D activities haven’t stopped growing, consolidating our applied research portfolio with very satisfactory results and the same common denominator: sustainable and circular bioeconomy.

Industrial Collaboration

We work in applied research in collaboration with national and international driving companies in multiple sectors. Client companies such as ENCE, COPO Group, CUPA, ABN Pipe Group, Extraco, ADI Group, Miquel y Costas, Arteixo Química, Canarga, Técnicas Reunidas, BASF, Cromogenia, FINSA and a long list of companies make possible the Centre’s research and its application in industry.

Case of success

We develop new industrial applications for lignocellulosic materials in fields as diverse as: polyurethane foams for automotive seating, cleaning products, insulating panels for construction, additives for pipes, stabilizers for forest soils or sustainable asphalt mixtures for the construction sector.

Thanks to the trust of our partners, our list of projects hasn’t stopped growing. Within this broad portfolio, we highlight success stories both in direct research with clients and in collaborative projects such as LIGNOPRIZED, NOVACELL or REDEFINE.

  • Direct research with clients

CETIM support our clients in internal research for the development of new processes or products within the forestry and wood industry. We work with leading industries in the improvement of wood derivatives manufacturing processes through pretreatments and chemical and biological treatments of the raw material, in the introduction of additives, in advanced obtaining of nanocellulose with continuous processes, in the valorization of wastewater, etc.

Investigadores de CETIM operando homogeneizador piloto del Centro.

  • CIEN Lignoprized – a success story in lignin revalorization

Led by ENCE, LIGNOPRIZED is a consortium of 7 companies throughout the lignin value chain, resulting in an integrated cycle under the bio-refinery concept. Thus, LIGNOPRIZED focuses on the global approach to the process, from the extraction and purification of lignin from its extraction from black liquor (from the kraft pulping process) and biomass (from different origins), to its chemical modification for its adaptation and development in high value-added applications.

Specifically, the lignin extraction, purification and modification process has been developed by ENCE and Técnicas Reunidas. For the development of high value-added applications, each of the partners has worked in their respective value chains. Thus, the success of BASF in developing plasticizing and superplasticizing additives for concrete, the development of polymeric-lignin matrix compounds with improved properties for pipes, carried out by ABN, or the creation of formulations with textile additives to obtain fabric dye additives, carried out by Grupo ADI, are worth mentioning.

The project, recently completed, has been successful by replacing fossil resources with residual natural resources in order to generate products with high added value and low environmental impact, positioning the members of the consortium in a new eco-sustainable economic model with high industrial potential, thanks to the transformation of the pulp production plants into bio-refineries.

  • CIEN Novacell – a case of success in the cellulose revalorization

In response to the demand for new products and services of high technological value, environmentally sustainable and respectful, the Novacell project -also formed by a consortium of 7 companies led by ENCE- covers the entire cellulose value chain, bringing together the main primary and secondary industrial sectors related to the Bioeconomy – paper, bioplastics, cosmetics, textiles, chemicals and water.

Novacell promotes the research and obtaining of cellulose micro and nanoparticles from cellulose pulp derived from the Kraft process, and its subsequent chemical modification for its adaptation study in industrial applications with high added value. Thus, the project focuses on the optimization of processes for obtain micro and nanocellulose with high properties, emphasizing the reduction of energy consumption and, therefore, the environmental and economic nature of the process.

Specifically, ENCE is carrying out studies to obtain cellulose micro and nanoparticles from cellulose pulp. For its application in high added-value products, all partners work in their respective areas, highlighting the success of the COPO Group in textile coatings and polyurethane foams, and the new improved low-weight papers developed by MIQUEL Y COSTAS.

At the end of this year, Novacell will finish with promising results. This will position Spain at the forefront of the bioeconomy in Europe thanks to new bio-based products, technically and economically viable for use in industry.

  • CIEN Redefine – a success story for the detergency of the future

The detergency and cleaning market affects the entire population, and improvements in its value chain will have an impact on consumer welfare as well as on the environment and the economy. In response to this need, the Redefine project arises, which investigates new ingredients and formulations that include advanced cleaning and sanitizing functionalities. In this sense, CETIM have investigated in collaboration with CARINSA the encapsulation of fragrances with different properties through sustainable processes and bio-based materials. The microcapsules obtained were validated in conventional detergency products. Promising results have also been obtained in research with ADI Group in the development of lignin-derived bio-surfactants with degreasing effect.

Investigadoras de CETIM operando con materiales lignocelulósicos.

Technological positioning in key markets

Cellulose -a natural and renewable resource with interesting physical and chemical properties- and lignin -a pillar for the development of green chemistry and the bio-economy- are raw materials with enormous potential. In the coming years, both components will move upstream markets – cellulose, worth 530 million dollars, and lignin, worth more than a billion dollars-. Thus, thanks to our research, we position our clients in a booming market that will be a boost to the sustainable and ecological industry of the future.