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Molecules 2018, 23(7), 1822; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules23071822

Formation of Lignin Nanoparticles by Combining Organosolv Pretreatment of Birch Biomass and Homogenization Processes

1
Biochemical Process Engineering, Division of Chemical Engineering, Department of Civil, Environmental and Natural Resources Engineering, Luleå University of Technology, 971-87 Luleå, Sweden
2
Structural Engineering, Division of Structural and Fire Engineering, Department of Civil, Environmental and Natural Resources Engineering, Luleå University of Technology, 971-87 Luleå, Sweden
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Charles Xu and Michael Paleologou
Received: 27 June 2018 / Revised: 18 July 2018 / Accepted: 20 July 2018 / Published: 23 July 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Lignin for Energy, Chemicals and Materials)
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Abstract

Valorization of lignocellulosic biomass into a biorefinery scheme requires the use of all biomass components; in this, the lignin fraction is often underutilized. Conversion of lignin to nanoparticles is an attractive solution. Here, we investigated the effect of different lignin isolation processes and a post-treatment homogenization step on particle formation. Lignin was isolated from birch chips by using two organosolv processes, traditional organosolv (OS) and hybrid organosolv-steam explosion (HOS-SE) at various ethanol contents. For post-treatment, lignin was homogenized at 500 bar using different ethanol:water ratios. Isolation of lignin with OS resulted in unshaped lignin particles, whereas after HOS-SE, lignin micro-particles were formed directly. Addition of an acidic catalyst during HOS-SE had a negative impact on the particle formation, and the optimal ethanol content was 50–60% v/v. Homogenization had a positive effect as it transformed initially unshaped lignin into spherical nanoparticles and reduced the size of the micro-particles isolated by HOS-SE. Ethanol content during homogenization affected the size of the particles, with the optimal results obtained at 75% v/v. We demonstrate that organosolv lignin can be used as an excellent starting material for nanoparticle preparation, with a simple method without the need for extensive chemical modification. It was also demonstrated that tuning of the operational parameters results in nanoparticles of smaller size and with better size homogeneity. View Full-Text
Keywords: lignin nanoparticles; micro-particles; birch; organosolv pretreatment; biomass fractionation; homogenization lignin nanoparticles; micro-particles; birch; organosolv pretreatment; biomass fractionation; homogenization
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Matsakas, L.; Karnaouri, A.; Cwirzen, A.; Rova, U.; Christakopoulos, P. Formation of Lignin Nanoparticles by Combining Organosolv Pretreatment of Birch Biomass and Homogenization Processes. Molecules 2018, 23, 1822.

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