Plastic from wood?

The bio-polymer, lignin, is a by-product of paper making and a promising raw material for manufacturing sustainable plastic materials. However, the quality of this naturally occurring product is not as uniform as that of petroleum-based plastics.

A study by Mats Johansson from the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Stockholm, which has been published in the journal ACS Applied Polymer Materials, provides an approach for a systematic understanding of lignin as a raw material to allow for the production of lignin-based bio-plastics with different properties, depending on the specific application.

According to the principle author Marcus Jawerth, up to two-thirds of the lignin produced during the paper production process could be turned into polyesters and serve as a starting material for making plastics.

“Along with cellulose and chitin, lignin is one of the most ubiquitous organic compounds on Earth and offers enormous potential for replacing petroleum-based plastics,” says the scientist. “It’s far too valuable to simply burn it.” (https://phys.org/)

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