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Open AccessArticle

From Wood to Resin—Identifying Sustainability Levers through Hotspotting Lignin Valorisation Pathways

1
Wood K Plus (Kompetenzzentrum Holz GmbH), Market Analysis and Innovation Research Team, 1180 Vienna, Austria
2
Wood K Plus (Kompetenzzentrum Holz GmbH), WMT—Wood Materials Technologies, 3430 Tulln, Austria
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Fraunhofer Center for Chemical-Biotechnological Processes CBP, 06237 Leuna, Germany
4
VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, 02150 Espoo, Finland
5
Department of Economics and Social Sciences, Institute of Marketing and Innovation, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna, 1180 Vienna, Austria
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2018, 10(8), 2745; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10082745
Received: 15 June 2018 / Revised: 18 July 2018 / Accepted: 26 July 2018 / Published: 3 August 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Life Cycle Assessment)
The concept of bioeconomy supports the diversification strategies of forest-based industries to create new value chains and contribute to economic growth and sustainability. The use of side streams or by-products of the pulp and paper industry (PPI) is seen as a promising approach. In line with this, the idea of substituting fossil-based materials and products is frequently discussed. One such example is the use of lignin as a bio-based alternative for fossil-based phenols. Lignin-based products not only have to fulfil identical technical requirements as their fossil-based counterparts, they are also expected to be more sustainable. This study conducts an integrated hotspot analysis of two lignin valorisation pathways during R&D. The analysis considers the provision of technical kraft lignin as a by-product of a state-of-the-art kraft pulp mill, followed by valorisation, either via solvent fractionation or via base-catalysed depolymerisation (BCD), and the final application of the valorised lignins in phenol formaldehyde resins. As a two-step approach, first of all, the environmental hotspots (e.g., energy-intensive process steps) along the valorisation pathways are identified. Secondly, a variation analysis is carried out, which involves the identification of sustainability levers (e.g., selection of solvents). Identifying those levers at an early research stage helps to support the R&D process towards sustainable product development. View Full-Text
Keywords: hotspot analysis; early-stage assessment; lignin valorisation; prospective LCA; bioeconomy; pulp and paper hotspot analysis; early-stage assessment; lignin valorisation; prospective LCA; bioeconomy; pulp and paper
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Lettner, M.; Solt, P.; Rößiger, B.; Pufky-Heinrich, D.; Jääskeläinen, A.-S.; Schwarzbauer, P.; Hesser, F. From Wood to Resin—Identifying Sustainability Levers through Hotspotting Lignin Valorisation Pathways. Sustainability 2018, 10, 2745.

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