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Continous flow lignin fractionation

Circular economyContinous flow extractionLignin fractionationWaste valorization

Introduction

Lignin is a residue originating from processing paper and biofuels. Hitherto disposed of or used in applications of low value, it has found  ever more innovative and industrial applications as a commodity thanks to fractionation methods with high reproducibility. The patented system allows the first fractionation in a continuous flow; a fully automatable and scalable method.

Technical features

Lignin constitutes 30% of the lignocellulosic materials and the residue of agricultural and forestry processes, such as pulp & paper and modern biorefinery processes. However, when this natural polymer can be refined in highly reproducible fractions, it can turn from waste into a commodity, for example as a nano-structured material for coating, paints, resins with antimicrobial and sunscreen properties and in innovative packaging. Intrinsically biocompatible, it can also be used in cosmetics, nutraceuticals or pharmaceuticals. The high potential of lignin applications has led to the research of methods capable of refining it into highly reproducible fractions. These processes however, currently operate in batch mode (discontinuous), suitable for small scale production and laboratory settings.  Maintaining the same characteristics, the new patented segmented continuous flow fractionation system allows the automation of the process for future industrialisation.

Possible Applications

  • Composite materials, polymers and resins, additives for improving of the quality of materials / compounds in various industrial sectors;
  • Nanostructured materials for composites, cosmetics, nutraceutical products and formulations;
  • Reuse and enhancement of agricultural and forestry production waste.

Advantages

  • Higher efficiency than “batch” fractionation methods;
  • Lignin fractions with constant and reproducible characteristics;
  • Automated fractionation system;
  • Scalable at industrial level;
  • Economic and environmental sustainability.