In the "Lignoplast" project, five academic and five industrial partners are working on processes to develop lignin as a raw material source for aromatic synthetic building blocks. The desired aromatics are obtained by hydrolytic degradation of the macromolecular lignins and then functionalised chemically and enzymatically to produce adhesives, paints, polyurethanes and epoxides. The lignin-based products are used in sample materials and are subsequently characterized in terms of application technology and compared with conventional systems.
So far, the raw material lignin has only been used to a limited extent in niche products, for example as a concrete additive. A large part of the lignin, which is the largest natural source of aromatics and about 30 percent of lignocellulose biomass, is used for energy. The use of lignins for the production of aromatic synthetic building blocks contributes significantly to the sustainable substitution of petrochemical raw materials. At the same time, a way is shown how high-quality and technologically advanced products can be manufactured on the basis of renewable raw materials.
By selective depolymerization of the macromolecular lignin and targeted modification, a broad spectrum of "green" product classes can be developed. BioCat is investigating how the higher molecular weight solids produced during base-catalyzed lignin cleavage can be further catalytically degraded.