Fraunhofer develop process to divide wood waste into lignin and cellulose

October 25, 2012 |

In Germany, researchers with the Fraunhofer Center for Chemical-Biotechnological Processes CBP in Leuna, opened a pilot plant on October 2 to divide waste wood into lignin and cellulose to serve as raw materials for products such as plastic.  Working jointly with 12 partners from industry and research institutions, recently developed a process that enables them to use 80 to 90 percent of the wood substance – moreover, the lignin is sulfur-free. “

We break down the wood into its primary components, lignin and cellulose, by boiling it in water and alcohol at high temperatures and under high pressure – sort of like a pressure cooker,” explains Dr. Moritz Leschinsky, group manager at CBP. Lignin dissolves in the fluid, while the cellulose remains solid. In another step, the scientists extract the lignin from the fluid.  The extracted cellulose serves as a raw material for biosynthetics.  Once broken down into basic components, i.e. sugars, the researchers then produce the necessary monomers from this.

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