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College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science


An effective method that can produce a large amount of Kraft lignin with improved homogeneity is strongly desired for Kraft lignin's high-value applications and scientific advancements. Herein, a one-pot acid-catalyzed liquefaction method was developed to recover Kraft lignin directly from black liquor. The recovery rate and properties of the recovered lignin were affected by the reaction time, reaction temperature, moisture content (MC), pH, and acid categories. The highest lignin recovery rate of 75% was achieved when the concentrated black liquor (MC = 25%) reacted with methanol at pH = 7 and 160 °C for 10 min using acetic acid as the catalyst. Most of the recovered lignin from this method showed an average molecular weight (Mw) value less than 2000 Da and a polydispersity (PDI) value less than 2.0. Such a PDI value was lower than that of current acid precipitated lignin (around 2.2-5.4). The recovered lignin was directly used to replace 20% of the petroleum-based polyol in the formula of a flexible polyurethane (PU) foam, and it was found that the molecular weight characteristics of the lignin affected the physical and mechanical properties of the flexible PU foams. The recovered lignin with the Mw value of 1600 Da and the PDI value of 1.8 was able to maintain the major physical and mechanical properties of the flexible PU foams. This study provided a promising way to recover lignin with improved homogeneity from black liquor with the potential to customize lignin properties to meet the requirements of downstream processes.

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© 2022 The Authors. Published by American Chemical Society. Publisher’s version of record:

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ACS Omega


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