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First commercial-scale lignin plant ‘in 25 years’ opens in US

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A commercial-scale lignin separation plant has been installed by Domtar at its mill in North Carolina, US.

The company claims this is the first facility of its type in the country in over 25 years. The production of lignin began in February, with a targeted rate of 75 tonnes a day, for industrial applications such as a bio-based alternative to the use of petroleum and other fossil fuels.

‘The possibilities for making a real difference in terms of offering manufacturers a bio-based alternative to the use of petro-chemicals is truly exciting,’ says Hasan Jameel, a professor at North Carolina State University’s Department of Forest Biomaterials. ‘This is a big win for sustainability on two counts - Domtar improves the efficiency of its pulp-making process and, at the same time, the market gets a reliable source of this underused material with so much potential.’

The project was helped to fruition by a grant through the Biomass Research and Development Initiative awarded by the US Department of Agriculture and the US Department of Energy.

‘A big part of this is our focus on partnering with collaborators to develop new products and markets for a wide portfolio of initiatives,’ adds Bruno Marcoccia, Domtar’s director of research and development.