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Valorization of lignin in polymer and composite systems for advanced engineering applications – A review

Collins, Maurice N., Nechifor, Mărioara, Tanasă, Fulga, Zănoagă, Mădălina, McLoughlin, Anne, Stróżyk, Michał A., Culebras, Mario, Teacă, Carmen-Alice
International journal of biological macromolecules 2019 v.131 pp. 828-849
biobased products, biomass, biopolymers, biorefining, byproducts, carbon, cellulose, energy, engineering, feedstocks, fossil fuels, lignin, lignocellulose, streams
As fossil fuel resources dwindle and new regulations for a cleaner and safer environment come on stream, there is growing interest in developing new sustainable feedstocks for future fuels, chemicals, polymers and fibers. Therefore materials research is ever more focused on the production of green or bio-based materials and their composites. Lignocellulosic biomass has become the feedstock of choice for these new materials as cellulose and lignin are the most abundant biopolymers on the planet. Lignin is a phenolic macromolecule, the principal biological source of aromatic structures, with a complex structure which varies depending on plant species and its isolation process. Despite its high carbon content and its potential as a raw material, lignin remains underutilised. Between 40 and 50 million tons of lignin are produced worldwide per year; while some is being used for low- and medium-value applications, most is currently treated as a non-commercialized by-product or as low value fuel to produce energy. However, with the emergence of biorefinery projects larger amounts of lignin with the potential for valorisation are being produced. Here, we summarise some of the latest developments in the field.