Polyols and Polyurethanes from Lignin

Unmet Need: Successful production of lignin based Polyols

Polyurethane (PU) is an important class of thermoset polymer with a $70 bn/year market, providing materials for many applications. PU materials are comprised of an isocyanate and a polyol; both of which are currently obtained from non-renewable petroleum resources, suggesting that the development of biobased alternatives is of utmost importance toward the national endeavor of net zero carbon emission by 2050. There has been development of lignin-based PU but due to the complex structural properties of Lignin, it remains a great challenge.

The Technology: Use of lignin oligomers for production of polyols

WSU researchers have developed a novel approach to produce lignin based flexible polyurethane foams using lignin oligomers with controlled structural properties. These lignin oligomers (DESL) are derived from wood, grass and waste biomass using deep eutectic solvent (DES) extraction and result in promising building blocks for synthesizing biobased materials. This novel approach has resulted in the preparation of lignin derived polyols and polyurethanes with a lignin-polyol concentration up to 40 wt.%.


  • Preparation semi flexible and flexible polyurethan (PU) foam.
  • Preparation of adhesives, sealants, coatings, and packaging materials.


  • Narrower molecular size distribution and resulting uniform structural properties.
  • Reduced packaging structure due to lignin properties and solvent used.
  • Biobased materials contributing to the endeavor of zero carbon emissions.
  • Novel approach to utilize abundantly available lignin.

Patent Information:

Provisional patent application has been filed.

Learn More

Rabindra Nanda
Technology Licensing Associate Senior
Washington State University
(509) 335-8608
Reference No: TECH-22/3477


Xiao Zhang
Udishnu Sanyal

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