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  • Writer's pictureAmerican Diversitied Energy

Lignin - A Sustainable Alternative to Fossil Fuels

Lignin, a natural polymer that gives the cell walls of plants their strength, has been called some nasty names: an “ugly, unwieldy molecule,”ornery, tough and uncooperative.

But lignin experts say the unloved, but abundant, substance, is coming into its own as a sustainable and effective alternative to fossil fuels.

The second most-abundant polymer in the world after cellulose, lignin is a byproduct of the production of ethanol and the pulp and paper industry. It has long been dismissed as a waste product suitable only for low-level heat generation or as a component of animal feed, in part because it has been difficult and expensive to turn into anything else. Now, it is being looked at as a potentially important source for the production of plant-based biofuels and products such as carbon fiber material, vanillin and bio-oils.

Those are among dozens of potential applications in development or being scaled up for commercialization. Engineers are working on new ways to break down lignin with modified enzymes or E.coli bacteria to make it usable in production of nylon, plastics and chemicals such as muconic acid and pyrogallol. In other applications, researchers have developed a lignin-based fuel cell that doesn’t discharge carbon dioxide, and are working on a biodegradable filament for 3D printing, turning a waste product into a useful asset in an integrated biorefinery, where multiple materials could be produced in one facility.

To bring these ideas to fruition, companies rely on lignin experts who have a strong background in biochemistry, forestry, bioenergy financing and engineering. They are familiar with technologies for processing lignin and lignocellulose materials and the application of these technologies. They also are knowledgeable about the costs of installation, long-term operations and maintenance. Lignin consultants can provide due diligence reviews of technologies, aid in selection of equipment and can offer basic design services and expertise. They can oversee fabrication and testing of systems and offer expertise during installation and commissioning of the systems.

American Diversified Energy (ADE) gives you access to over 150 experts, who can provide assistance on everything from due diligence to advancing new technologies related to all aspects of alternative fuels and the bioeconomy. ADE also can provide assistance with feasibility studies, annual reports, securing grants and guaranteed loans, responses to requests for proposals, creation and production of multiple types of business publications, business plans, financial models, financial presentations, business case and market analyses, technology development, engineering assistance, project management, government relations, and lobbying, and more. Feel free to contact or call us at 202-750-0007 for more information.


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