Lignin is an integral part of all lignocellulosic material. It serves as a structural component and plays a significant roll in the transfer of water in plants. Lignin is a biopolymer containing aromatic phenoxy-groups, aliphatic carboxy-groups and aliphatic alcohols, and if recovered and purified, lignin can be adapted to many functional chemistries.
Today, a significant amount of lignin can be found within a byproduct stream of pulp and paper mills known as black liquor. Black Liquor is a byproduct of the pulp and paper process that is generally concentrated in multi-effect evaporation and then burned for energy. GreenShift estimates that more than 50 million tons of lignin is burned each year at pulp and paper mills worldwide.
Furthermore, should the United States reach its lignocellulosic ethanol goal of 16 billion gallons per year, this industry would product a byproduct stream containing more than 100 million tons per year of lignin that most expect will also be burned for energy production.
GreenShift believes that if efficiently recovered and purified, lignin’s value would far exceed that of boiler fuels. As such, GreenShift has invested in and continues to invest in the development of cost effective extraction and purification process technologies that can be adopted by pulp and paper manufacturing facilities as well as lignocellulosic ethanol facilities.
Furthermore, GreenShift is investing in and developing high value applications for lignin. Many of the products being developed by GreenShift from lignin are direct replacements for petroleum derived products; thereby further reducing global dependence on oil, creating significant sources of income and improving the environment.