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A new lignin source for high-value products

Lignin structure
Lignin structure

NARA is optimizing a conversion process that converts the carbohydrates in woody biomass into bio-jet fuel and other chemical products. Depending on the tree species, up to 60% of the dry weight of wood is carbohydrates. That leaves the remaining 40% of the woody biomass as a byproduct. In order to maximize the economic sustainability of a wood-to-biofuel industry, converting …more

Lignin to plastic opportunities

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Under the conditions evaluated by NARA to convert post-harvest forest residuals into biojet fuel, approximately two-thirds of the woody material is left over as a byproduct. This left over material is rich in lignin, a complex polymer molecule found in plant cell walls.

The USDA-NIFA, through the NARA grant, funds research to develop high-value chemicals and materials that can be made from the lignin-rich material left after the …more

NARA researcher Xiao Zhang earns national award for biofuels research

Xiao Zhang
Xiao Zhang

NARA researcher Xiao Zhang received a $500,000 five-year Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program award from the National Science Foundation to develop ways to convert lignin into long chained hydrocarbons that could be used for fuel. For more information, read the article posted in the WSU news.

Xiao’s team contributed greatly to NARA’s efforts to determine the variability …more

Breaking lignin into new biomaterials


Lignin image

For wood tissue, lignin plays an essential role. It is a complex molecule located in the cell walls that provides mechanical strength and allows for efficient water transport. It is also quite plentiful. Depending on the species, the lignin in wood can represent between 25 to 30% of the dry weight.

Typically, the lignin produced from the pulp and paper industry (known as kraft lignin) is …more

Co-product development: lignin-rich material to clean the atmosphere


Co-product Comparison


Researchers at Weyerhaeuser are finding ways to make valuable products from the lignin-rich material leftover after slash piles have been converted to biojet fuel. Finding commercial uses for this material is an essential part of producing economically competitive biojet fuel. One promising product generated from this lignin-rich material is activated carbon. Activated carbon is derived from any organic substance with high carbon content …more