Valorisation of lignin – Achievements of the LignoValue project
Gosselink, R.J.A. ; Dam, J.E.G. van; Wild, P. de; Huijgen, W. ; Bridgwater, T. ; Heeres, H.J. ; Kloekhorst, A. ; Scott, E.L. ; Sanders, J.P.M. - \ 2011
In: Proceedings 3rd Nordic Wood Biorefinery Conference, 22 - 24 March, 2011, Stockholm, Sweden. - - p. 165 - 170.
Lignocellulosic biorefinery for production of biofuels, materials and chemicals requires valorization of all fractions including lignin. As a consequence of its poly-aromatic structure, lignin potentially serves as a source for aromatic chemicals. The developed biorefinery concept of the LignoValue project comprises two major steps: (1) Organosolv fractionation of wheat straw and willow into (hemi)cellulose and high purity lignin. (2) Further conversion of the isolated lignin via catalytic pyrolysis, supercritical depolymerization and partial hydrodeoxygenation (HDO) into different components like low molecular phenolic compounds, wood adhesives and fuel additives. The cellulose fraction resulting after organosolv fractionation is effectively hydrolysed by enzymes for biofuel production. Quality assessment of the liberated lignins shows interesting characteristics for follow-up chemistry such as high purity, relatively low molar mass and polydispersity. Catalytic pyrolysis in a fluidised bed at 400-500°C was found to convert organosolv lignin in 35-55% phenolic oil, 10% identified monomeric phenolic compounds, 10-20% water, 5-20% gas and 35-55% char. Supercritical depolymerisation of lignin in carbon dioxide based solvents resulted in a similar spectrum of products, however, at a lower temperature (ca 300°C) but at higher pressures. In both thermochemical processes the use of promotors or catalysts lead to an improved yield of the target monomeric aromatic products. Also the residual char fraction shows interesting properties for use in bio-char applications. Catalytic semi-continuous HDO of lignin in hydrogen atmosphere can be manipulated to yield both light oils or heavy oils as potential additives to fuels. Suitable catalysts were found to convert depolymerised lignin to phenolic oils in high yields. In this process no char formation is observed. The lignin oils were successfully tested on lab scale as partial substitution of phenol in resins for gluing wood panels. The LignoValue concept is critically reviewed in a techno-economic analysis demonstrating the potential for further commercial development and adoptation of this innovative biorefinery process in Europe.