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Other

Among the miscellaneous applications are the production of bulk chemicals (mainly phenols in the case of lignin), preparation of carbon fibers, of activated carbon, but also energy use of lignin (powders or liquified/dissolved lignins for powerplants and mobile engines) and uses of lignin for agglomeration (pelletising aids, dust binder) and as fillers (in polymers, inks, paints and varnishes etc).

The production of bulk chemicals out of lignin needs a depolymerisation process. Candidates are pyrolysis, gasification, catalytic cracking etc. After many studies in the 1980ies and early 1990ies, recently several groups started to work intensely on this topic in the context of new biorefineries. The main challenge is to find ways to increase the processes' selectivity for specific monomers and/or to find ways to efficiently use complex mixtures of different polymers.

The production of carbon fibers from lignin has its basis in studies carried out in 1975 and has led to the current situation whereby carbon fibres from a commercially available kraft lignin, without any chemical modification, by thermal spinning followed by carbonization. This procedure has been adopted commercially with lignin based carbon fibres, Kayacarbon, developed and made commercially available by Nippon Kayaku Co. on a pilot scale. The process involved carbonization of dry-spun fibers from lignin dissolved in an alkali solution with poly(vinyl alcohol) added as a plasticizer. Since then there have been further modifications to the process and multiple work also in the US and Europe. An earlier study which evaluated lignin production from renewable and recycled streams showed that 10% of U.S. lignin is sufficient to produce enough carbon fibre to replace half of the steel in all domestic passenger transport vehicles.

References on the latter topic as well on other miscellaneous uses can be found in Malherbe, p. 10.

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Overviews

Carbon fibers

Carbonisation

Depolymerisation

Rubber

Various

Catalytic oxidation of Kraft Lignin by aqueous polyoxometalates

Italic 5 and COST FP0602, Varenna Italy, 2009

H. Werhan, T. Voitl, P. R. von Rohr

Lignin valorisation by (catalytic) fast pyrolysis

ILI Workshop, Zürich/Dübendorf 2008 and LignoValue project

P.J. de Wild

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