Recovery of lignin from the spent cooking liquor in kraft pulp mills through the LignoBoost technology has opened up for an increased utilization of lignin building blocks in materials and chemicals. In that context, tailoring the properties of lignin through selection of cooking conditions is highly desirable, especially interesting being reducing the sulfur contect of the recovered lignin as influential for many applications. Sulfidity of the cooking liquor is the origin of the sulfur content in the recovered lignin and an important processing parameter governing strongly ligin reactions and structural changes during cooking. Yet, its influence on the structure and purity of the recovered lignin is not well-understood and is the focus of this work, where the main task will be to reveal the structural changes in lignin associated with variations in the sulfidity of the cooking liquor.
Stora Enso is the world leading producer of LignoBoost lignin and the initiator of this project, that will be performed in close collaboration with Chalmers (Forest Products and Chemical Engineering) equipped with experience and analytical tools for lignin characterization.
Aim and objectives
The specific objectives of the project are to account for following structural and compositional changes in lignin as a result of the sulfidity variations in the cooking liquor:
– Sulfur content
– Molecular weight distribution
-Linkages and functionalities (type & quantity).
- Batch cooking of wood chips (mimicking industrial conditios) with varying sulfidity and cooking time will be prformed in lab autoclaves.
- Extracted lignin will be precipitated and recovered from the cooking liquor
- Composition and structure of the obtained lignin fractions will be characterized by means of chromatography (size exclusion chromatography, ion chromatography, etv.) and spectroscopy (NMR, UV-Vis, FTIR, atom absorption spectroscopy) methods. Information on sulfur content, molecular weight distribution and occurrence of functionalities (e.g. linkage types and functional groups) will be interpreted in light of applied cooking conditions, sulfidity in particular. The work will be performed at Chalmers, Forest Products and Chemical Engineering in close collaboration with Stora Enso.
- Depending on time and progress, partial characterization of the fibre and paper properties will be performed.
The applicants should preferably have a background in chemical engineering, wood chemistry and process technology with a collaborative approach. The project can be performed in pair.
January 2024 or according to agreement
Merima Hasani Merima Hasani, CTH firstname.lastname@example.org
Rickard Wadsborn, Stora Enso email@example.com