Für den Inhalt der Angaben zeichnet die Projektleitung verantwortlich.
Dieses von der Gebert Rüf Stiftung geförderte Projekt wird von folgenden weiteren Projektpartnern mitgetragen: Laboratory of Sustainable and Catalytic Processing, EPFL; Berner Fachhochschule, Höhere Fachschule Holz Biel
Project no: GRS-082/17
Amount of funding: CHF 275'000
Duration: 08.2018 - 12.2019
Area of activity:
Pilotprojekte, 1998 - 2018
Dr. Remy Buser
Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne
EPFL SB ISIC LPDC, CH H2 525
1015 Lausanne (Schweiz)
- remy.buser@gmail. com
The increasing burden of climate change and resource depletion is compelling society to rethink our largely fossil-based chemical industry. New, breakthrogh methods to valorise molecules from natural materials, such as wood or plants in general, will play a central role in promoting the switch to bio-based feedstocks.
We recently developed and patented a disruptive technology able to valorise "lignin", a largely unexploited constituent of plants. Lignin is the second largest biopolymer on earth after cellulose and the largest natural source of aromatic molecules, a major building block of industrial products.
Because of its structure, lignin is actually the fraction of the plant with the highest energy density and, from a chemical standpoint, most closely resembles petroleum. With these qualities, lignin is an ideal target for renewable chemical production. With this project, we aim at demonstrating the benefits of a novel form of lignin as a direct replacement for fossil-based products rich in aromatics, such as coating, adhesives, food additives, cosmetics and fragrances.
What is special about the project?
In plants, lignin acts like a glue holding together the cellulose fibers. Due to this quality, most attempts to exploit the biopolymer have failed. This is because when lignin is extracted from the plant, it typically undergoes condensation - a process involving the rapid formation of carbon-carbon bonds that are almost impossible to break once formed. However, we have designed a mild lignin extraction method that uses stabilizing molecules (so-called “protection groups”) that prevent the lignin from condensing. Our method preserves the full chemical potential of the extracted plant material and allows unprecedented efficiency in the conversion of lignin to smaller platform molecules. In turn, these bio-based molecules enable countless novel routes for the production of bulk chemicals in a sustainable fashion.
The project started in August 2018. Within 2 months, the team has set up a fully equipped in-house production plant with a daily capacity of 1kg of biomass. This installation has allowed the extraction of over 5kg of “protected lignin” and over 15kg of carbohydrates by the end of 2018. The lignin was further converted to a number of different products and will be tested in different applications as a replacement for fossil-based alternatives. The main focus will be on resins, but alternative fields such as industrial standards.
W Lan, J Behaghel de Bueren et al., Highly Selective Oxidation and Depolymerization of , Diol Protected Lignin. Angew. Chem. 2019
Shuai et al., Formaldehyde stabilization facilitates lignin monomer production during biomass depolymerization, 2016, Science, Vol. 354, Issue 6310, pp. 329-333;
Lan et al., Protection Group Effects During , Diol Lignin Stabilization Promote High Selectivity Monomer Production, 2018, Angew. Chem. Vol. 57, Issue 5.
Persons involved in the project
Last update to this project presentation 16.04.2020