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From wood to resin - identifying sustainability levers through hotspotting lignin valorisation pathways

: Lettner, Miriam; Solt, Pia; Rößiger, Björn; Pufky-Heinrich, Daniela; Jääskeläinen, Anna-Stiina; Schwarzbauer, Peter; Hesser, Franziska

Fulltext ()

Sustainability 10 (2018), No.8, Art. 2745, 17 pp.
ISSN: 2071-1050
Journal Article, Electronic Publication
Fraunhofer IGB ()
hotspot analysis; early-stage assessment; lignin valorisation; prospective LCA; bioeconomy; pulp and paper industry

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