Technological Centre

Lignin demonstrates its potential as a sustainable precursor for industrial chemistry

The LIGNOPRIZED and REDEFINE projects, both focused on obtaining high added value products from lignin, have been successfully completed.

LIGNOPRIZED has successfully introduced modified lignin into applications as diverse as concrete additives, pipes or textile additives, improving their conventional characteristics.

REDEFINE has succeeded in encapsulating fragrances and developing bio-surfactants with degreasing properties.

The current transition towards renewable and circular materials is a great scientific challenge that society demands and needs: the great majority of the materials we use in our daily lives require fossil materials derived from petroleum for their production. In this sense, it is necessary to develop technologies that enable a transition towards a circular and sustainable economy by seeking alternatives to these fossil-based materials.

Lignin, a natural biopolymer present in wood, has gained attention in recent years due to its availability, versatility and potential as a chemical precursor in the production of a multitude of compounds. However, its heterogeneity and difficult processing make research necessary to mature its industrial and commercial applications.

Thanks to our expertise in materials chemistry and lignocellulosic materials, projects such as LIGNOPRIZED and REDEFINE have recently been successfully completed.

LIGNOPRIZED: multi-sectoral application of modified lignin in high added value products
Led by ENCE, LIGNOPRIZED is a consortium of 7 companies involved in the entire lignin value chain, from obtaining and purifying 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 added-value applications.

Specifically, the process of extraction, purification and modification of lignin has been successfully developed by ENCE and Técnicas Reunidas in collaboration with CETIM. Kraft lignin has been obtained and subsequently modified by chemical processes -such as sulphomethylation and others-, both at laboratory and pre-industrial scale.

From this sulphomethylated lignin, high added value products have been obtained. On the one hand, in collaboration with MASTER BUILDERS, plasticizers used as a dispersing base for concrete additives have been obtained. On the other hand, the use of lignin and its modifications in fillers and compatibilizers to improve the compatibility of polymers with glass fibers has made it possible to partially replace the polymers present in ABN pipes with these natural fibers without any loss of mechanical or thermal capacity. The addition of ADI group textiles with modified lignin has given them abrasion resistance properties.

Thus, the LIGNOPRIZED project has been successfully completed by substituting fossil resources with residual natural resources, generating products with high added value and low environmental impact.

Kraft lignin obtained during the LIGNOPRIZED project.

REDEFINE: a new generation of detergent bio-products
Formed by a consortium of 6 companies, the aim of the REDEFINE project has been to research and develop new ingredients and formulations that encompass advanced cleaning and sanitizing functionalities to meet the challenges posed by the detergency of the future.

In this sense, CETIM has successfully investigated, in collaboration with CARINSA, the encapsulation of fragrances with different properties by means of sustainable processes and bio-based materials. The microcapsules obtained were validated in conventional detergency products.

In addition, promising results have also been obtained in research with the ADI Group on the development of lignin-derived bio-surfactants with a degreasing effect, achieving improved properties compared to commercial ones, both in terms of lower surface tension and controlled foamability.

Thus, the REDEFINE project has been successfully completed, achieving new cleaning formulations for the detergency of the future, more sustainable than conventional ones.