ORNL develops lignin-based thermoplastic conversion process
ORNL develops lignin-based thermoplastic conversion process 1 December 2012 Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have developed a process that ultimately transforms the lignin byproduct of the pulp and paper industry into a thermoplastic—a polymer that becomes pliable above a specific temperature. An open-access paper on the work is published in the journal Green Chemistry . The team accomplished this by reconstructing larger lignin molecules either through a chemical reaction with formaldehyde or by washing with methanol. Through these simple chemical processes, they created a crosslinked rubber-like material that can also be processed like plastics. Instead of using nearly 50 million tons of lignin byproduct produced annually as a low-cost fuel to power paper and pulp mills, the material can be transformed into a lignin-derived high-value plastic. While th...