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Development of biopolymers from waste wood biomass (biopur)

Development of biopolymers from waste wood biomass (biopur)

Polymers that are created by the chemical polymerisation of naturally occurring monomers are attracting considerable commercial interest. This includes non-toxicity, biodegradability and biocompatibility. In addition, these polymers are by definition drawing on feedstocks that are renewable. The development of specialised lignin compounds, such as electrically conducting polymers, engineering plastics and polyurethane, is an area of highest interest and growth. Lignin is a polymer found in woody and herbaceous plants. It consists of phenylpropane building blocks and belongs to the polyphenol family of polymers. Lignin polymers are highly amorphous, three-dimensional structures. The most common commercial form of lignin is lignosulfonate, a compound derived from sulfite pulping. Higher-purity lignin can be obtained from 'Kraft' pulping. At present most of the lignin isolated from pulping processes is burned as an on-site fuel source. However, the material is increasingly being used in non-energy applications. The main objective of this project is to develop methods that will enable lignins of controlled grades from waste wood biomass to be prepared and to transform them into polymeric materials. The result will be biopolymers, obtained by liquefying waste wood biomass in the presence of polyhydric alcohols or phenols and with the use of adequate catalysts. Three industrial partners and three research institutions will cooperate to develop the specific end-uses for waste wood biomass. In this project new potential products of and specific uses for lignin derivatives will be developed: * polyurethane resin, obtained by liquefying biomass with alcohols (hard, soft or foamed polyurethanes). * phenolic resin - liquefying with phenol. The specifications will be adapted to the requirements for different specific end-uses. The research will include the modification of waste wood biomass, the evaluation of processability and the specification of industrial requirements. First, the products will be developed on a laboratory-scale. The raw material is chestnut wood, which is to be transformed by the main participant, TANIN. By chemical transformation in quantities of 40,000 tons/year, they get approximately 6,000 tons/year of tannin extract and 1,500 tons/year of furfural. After processing wood remains of 20,000 tons/year of biomass, so called cellulignin is available, which contains above all cellulose, lignin and smaller amounts of hemicellulose. This material at the moment is used as a fuel for covering the company's own energy needs. In the future they intend to apply it as raw material for the production of new materials (poyurethanes) with larger added value. For further chemical processing it is very suitable because of its homogeneity and chemical pre-treatment. The approach is to use a unique liquefying reagent to chemically break down the lignocellulosics under mild conditions. The liquefaction process partially decomposes the macromolecules of lignin, cellulose and hemicellulose in the lignocellulosic materials, and thus converts the lignocellulosic materials into a homogeneous viscous liquid. The liquefied mixture contains large amounts of polyols. These polyols can be directly used without further purification and separation since they are rich in accessible reactive groups that can react with other chemicals to produce polymers. Polyurethane, polyester and many other biodegradable products can be produced from polyols. The process developed in our preliminary studies is already capable of fully utilising feedstock materials with zero-emission of any organic compound to the environment. The above samples are polyurethane foams made from renewable lignocellulosic materials. The lignocellulosic materials were first converted into liquid biopolyols through the liquefaction. The liquefied mixture then reacted with some chemicals to produce polyurethane foams. Flexible and rigid foams can be produced by adjusting the formulas. The foams can be used as insulation and biodegradable packaging materials. In the first phase of the developmental project, the subject of research will be cellulignin. Based on the results, procedures for processing can also be used on other similar chemical waste materials (waste paper, starch, different types of cellulose, etc.). Keywords: recycling, wood biomass, polyurethane.
Acronym: 
BIOPUR
Project ID: 
3 611
Start date: 
01-10-2005
Project Duration: 
36months
Project costs: 
760 000.00€
Technological Area: 
Biotreatment / Compost / Bioconversion
Market Area: 
Polymer (plastics) materials

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