Bio-Value SPIR project: Lignin products with higher value

21.10.2013, News

In the Bio-Value SPIR project 'Value-added products from lignin' the goal is to develope products with a higher value than the products that are based on lignin today. At the Kick-off meeting for Bio-Value SPIR on the 10th-11th of October BioRefining Alliance met the leader of the project and Head of Department at Aarhus University, Ib Johannsen.  

Ib Johannsen, Head of Department at Aarhus University. Head of Competence center Conversion and project leader of Value-added products from lignin in Bio-Value SPIR. Photographer: Julie Søgaard.

Partner: Aarhus University
Project: Value-added products from lignin

Aarhus University, which recently became a member of BioRefining Alliance, is one of the four universities in the Bio-Value SPIR platform. The university particpates in four out of six projects and one of the subplatforms. The Head of the Chemistry Department, Ib Johannsen, is the project leader of Value-added products from lignin and Head of competence center Conversion:    

Why is Aarhus University a part of the Bio-Value SPIR platform and more specific this project?

The biobased economy is a very interesting area. Much is going on here right now and it will be a central aspect of the future society. We are a part of this project partly because Aarhus University has developed some relevant technologies and partly because it gives us the opportunity to work together with some interesting partners at DTU and Copenhagen University and last but not least with the industry. It is also nice to think about the final and hopefully sustainable products this project can lead to - e. g. a binder in a Rockwool product.     

What will you focus on in this project?

We will focus on getting most value out of lignin. Lignin is a central component in lignocellulosis which e. g. straw and wood are made of. Lignin is also a side product in the production of bioethanol. Until now the lignin has just been burned and therefore has value of 0.5 to 1 DKK per Kilogram. In this project we will try to make some products from lignin with a value from 5 to 30 DKK per Kilogram, which might be able to replace some of the chemicals made from fossil oil today.  

So you will use a feedstock which has been regarded as something of very low value within biorefining and make it valuable?

Yes, we take lignin which is a complex feedstock and break it down to components. Then it can be refined to either pure compounds or to more complex structures which can be used as binders.

Besides the potential products you mention what other perspectives do you see in this project?

As a Organic Chemist I find it very exciting that we now need to re-think organic chemistry. We are used to the fact that many products are made from very few chemicals based on gas and oil. In the coming years we will get new 'building blocks' based on natural components which will create a new foundation for organic chemistry - new polymers and new materials.  

Read more about the project: