LignoBoost™ - History, Process , Development and Future Prospects : DecisionDatabases.com
In the evolutionary history of plants, biosynthesis of lignin holds an exceptional place. This macromolecule was first seen in tracheophytes giving the plants the strength to stand and reign the terrestrial ecosystem. As we see it today lignin - together with hemicellulose and cellulose form a rigid cell wall - imparting it strength, protection and helping in water conduction. It is one of the hardest biopolymer to degrade. This hydrophobic, aromatic, organic macromolecule is one of the most abundant natural polymers, after cellulose on the earth.
Lignin is gaining economic importance since the last decade because of it’s afore mentioned properties. Today, when sustainability, ecological maintenance, renewability, green technology are becoming a necessity dependence extraction from bio sources like lignin is the desired move.
Lignin extraction is conducted by two processes – sulfite pulping – producing lignosulphonate and – kraft pulping – producing kraft lignin. The recently commercialized technology LignoBoost™ is bringing momentum in the kraft lignin market.
A pulp mill uses wood to produce paper pulp and in between makes black liquor, as by product. This black liquor is made up of lignin, hemicellulose, other solids and chemicals which are reused in recovery boiler of the pulp mill as a thermal energy substitute and for other chemicals.
LignoBoost™ is a complete system that works in line with the paper mill and extracts lignin from the black liquor mixture. The remaining liquor can be used for energy, and extracted lignin pellets/powder can be used commercially.
History of LignoBoost™
The experiments for lignin extraction were carried at Chalmers University of Technology in collaboration with Innventia and Metso. The main reason for this experiment was to separate the precipitated lignin from black liquor by filtration. After various experiments, on December 26th, 2006, 500kg of lignin was extracted. Tests were carried out and some of the experiments proved that the lignin acts as an excellent combustible fuel.
In a second program known as the Frame 2, which was started from October 2005 to December 2008, the LignoBoost™ process was developed into industrial practices. The first demonstration plant was located in Backhammer. The demonstration plant is planned to produce 4,000 tonnes of lignin annually. Regular production of lignin was started with an official inauguration on February 12th, 2007.
Process and Development
LignoBoost™ is a process that works together with the evaporation of precipitation of lignin by lowering its pH with the help of another compound CO2. The precipitate is later dewatered with the help of Metso's vertical plate pressure filters. During this process, sodium also gets extracted and it is separated by dissolving lignin again in the spent wash water and acid. The result product is re-washed again with acid and produces cakes of pure lignin.
The lignin extraction process was first owned by Innventia and was later bought by Valmet (a Metso company) though enhancement and development work is still in collaboration. Domtar was the first company to use the LignoBoost™ technology with its Plymouth, North Carolina mill. In 2014 Domtar started the commercial production of high quality lignin as Biochoise™.
The second LignoBoost™ plant is being set up at Stora Enso, in the south east of Finland, near kotka, which was started on September 15th, 2015. According to the latest company updates, the Sunila mill has 370,000 tons of softwood pulp annually. Initially, both companies, Metso and Innventia worked together on inventing and bringing into action the LignoBoost ™ technology and the first plant was started at Domtar's Plymouth, North Carolina.
The LignoBoost™ technology
- enhances the pulp production by reducing the thermal load of the recovery boiler
- reduces the mill’s dependence on fossil fuel – thus making the earth green as well reduces the mill’s dependence on fluctuating oil pricing
- adds revenue to the mills by selling kraft lignin for further processing as specialty chemicals ( carbon fiber, binder, activated carbon, dispersants, asphalt emulsions etc.) , energy sources and other uses.
Due to its many uses and being less expensive in comparison to other products, lignin is highly recommended in the market today. Companies are looking forward to implement more plants to produce lignin from the LignoBoost™ technology.
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