Texas A&M researchers develop carbon fiber from lignin

May 17, 2017 |

In Texas, waste material from the paper and pulp industry soon could be made into anything from tennis rackets to cars.

“We have overcome one of the industry’s most challenging issues by discovering how to make good quality carbon fiber from waste,” said Dr. Joshua Yuan, Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientist and associate professor of plant pathology and microbiology in College Station. The research was published recently in Green Chemistry, the peer-reviewed journal of the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Yuan’s research team has had several successes in making fuel and bioproducts from lignin. But even the biofuel making process leaves a large stockpile of waste. That led them to consider the possibility of making carbon fiber material. Yuan envisions a multi-stream integrated biorefinery in which lignin is separated in one location so that a variety of materials — the high density carbon fibers and the low density bioplastics, along with biofuels from plant feedstock like grasses — could be made at one  facility. Texas A&M researchers develop carbon fiber from lignin

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