Lignocellulosic ethanol plants currently use lignin to heat and power plants, but high investment costs and low profitability are driving the need to valorize more of fractions.
“If biofuels are to become a reality, we need to realize the industrial potential of lignin and get more value from it,” says UB research Swarnima Agnihotri. “Seeing the complexity and richness of its functional groups, there are various potential applications of lignin by converting it in variety of value added products like high performance carbon fiber, bio-oil and vanillin, to name a few.”
Once the extraction from wheat straw is optimized, the group will work to transform the pure lignin into bio-oil through a hydrothermal liquefaction process.
Agnihotri’s work is part of AGROinLOG, a European Union Horizon 2020 project.