Unmet Need: Production of high-performance composite materials using lignin
The emerging biomass refinery industry generates an enormous amount of lignin as waste in biochemical biomass-to-biofuel conversion processes. No practical biorefinery lignin valorization process has been demonstrated so far. Given the potential volume of biorefinery lignin, diverting the majority for material production is a particularly appealing approach. Unfortunately, existing technologies cannot produce high-performance composite such as carbon fiber using lignin. The key to solving this technical challenge is to identify an ideal lignin substrate with higher structural homogeneity and a set of unique structural specifics that can promote a steady interaction with its co-polymers.
The Technology: Method of Producing Lignin with Controlled Structural Properties Using Heterocycle Compounds
This technology presents a method of extraction of lignin with unique and controlled structural properties. The method uses a solvent with a heterocycle compound in combination with one or more other chemicals. This lignin is further used to prepare high-performance composite materials and in the production of energy storage devices.
- A wide range of materials including carbon fibers, thermoplastic polymers, thermosetting polymers, and their blends and composites are prepared using lignin.
- The resultant light-colored and odorless lignin are applicable to produce film and coating products.
- The resultant industrial lignin is additionally applicable to produce energy storage devices.
- A unique set of lignin structural properties contribute to the high performance of composites with high lignin contents.
- Based on the treatment and conditions selected a variety of lignin can be produced.
A provisional patent application has been filed.