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Pretreated lignin to produce results

Lignin is a by-product of the forestry industry that creates opportunities for new products for the sector. Sverker Danielsson talks more about the focus of forthcoming research programmes.

What will you be researching into? 

"Issues concerning how to take the lignin to market. We start with lignin from wood or other raw materials and expose it to various processes such as fractionation, heat treatments or chemical modifications in order to create new materials from lignin", says Sverker Danielsson.

What are the challenges?

Connecting the conditions of the various processes with product properties. That work is ongoing, but there is still a lot that the researchers need to learn.

"Another challenge is to find the right lignin product for the user. We will endeavour to achieve the correct requirement specifications so that we don’t waste time trying to improve something that is already good enough. In order to get lignin into new value chains, players from various industries need to come together", says Sverker.

A third challenge with lignin is to find characterisation methods for various parameters that make it possible to compare results from different test environments. Being able to specify the lignin grade for a specific product is the key to turning it into a commodity.

How can the challenges be solved?

A key to creating even better carbon fibres is to control the sub-processes and run them continuously – instead of in batches as is the case today. 

“We will build on the successes we have had in carbon fibres and that are interesting for several applications both as load-bearing components as well as other features that may be suitable for energy storage applications,” says Sverker and continues.

 “We need to find the right chemistry to treat lignin so that it fits in the subsequent processes. We are adapting the thermal properties of the lignin and studying how it behaves when it melts and the time and temperature required to stabilise and carbonise the material”.

When it comes to analyses and forest industry processes, there is a wealth of expertise at RISE and this can be viewed as a key to controlling every step from black liquor to carbon fibres and succeeding in doing it continuously. 

Sverker Danielsson is responsible for the area "Lignin refining for high value applications" in the research program 2018-2020.


Sverker Danielsson
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