Separation/fractionation of lignin oils via membrane separation technology

In the BIO-HArT project VITO succeeded in using membrane separation technology to separate lignin oils based on molecular weight via a cascade process by using 2 membranes in series. Different fractions of lignin derivatives enriched in monomers or oligomers can be successfully produced with the developed protocols.

Conversion of presently underutilized lignin by-products into high performance materials calls for development of new and/or optimized process technologies. In this respect, cost-effective downstream separation and purification processes are of utmost importance. 

Evaluation of membrane separation technology

In the BIO-HArT project Biorizon co-initiator VITO is responsible for the evaluation of membrane separation technology to separate/fractionate lignin oils (i.e. mixtures of lignin derivatives (monomers, dimers, oligomers)) issued from the direct conversion of wood and the depolymerisation of lignin). The separation is based on molecular weight and the size of the derivatives. The lignin oils were provided by KU Leuven and TU/e, both partners in the BIO-HArT project.

Produce samples for further application development

Within this project the developed protocols will be used to produce the required samples for further application development by the partners like Maastricht University. Besides, the protocols can also be translated to other types of lignin oils issued from other types of conversion processes to produce fractions thereof.

Next steps: pilot solvent filtration unit and further evaluation & exploitation

A new pilot solvent filtration unit will be delivered by the end of February, beginning of March. VITO will be able to perform membrane filtration processes at a scale ranging from lab- to pilot scale. Different set-ups are available and both aqueous and solvent-based streams can be treated.

Furthermore, the use of membrane separation technology in the wood/lignin-to-aromatics value chain (lignin horizon) is further evaluated and exploited in the national and European running projects ARBOREF, MAIA. SmartLi and LigniOx.

Besides purification, separation and fractionation of lignin-based stream, VITO also focuses on:

  1. Analytics and characterization throughout the value chain (lignin, fractions, modified lignins and polymers);
  2. Modification/functionalization of lignin-derived streams/fractions;
  3. Polymerization of lignin-derived streams/fractions;
  4. Application testing of lignin-derived molecules/polymers.

Biorizon Innovation and Upscaling of Renewable Aromatics Technology (BIO-HArT)

The cross-border project BIO-HArT, acronym in Dutch for “Biorizon Innovation and Upscaling of Renewable Aromatics Technology”, was set out in 2016 to scale up technology for the production of bio-aromatics from biomass, focusing specifically on woody biomass sources. By the end of 2018 this must result in functioning bench-scale demonstrators and optimized processes with which samples can be provided to the industry on a kilogram scale.

This project is established by a contribution of the European Interreg V Flanders-The Netherlands program that stimulates innovation, sustainable energy, a healthy environment and the labor market by means of cross-border projects. 

More information

For more information, please contact Roel Vleeschouwers, Business Development Manager Biorizon in the field of lignin via or +32 (0)4 74 94 99 09.

Biorizon is powered by

Green Chemistry Campus

This project is made possible by a contribution from the European
Regional Development Fund (ERDF) within the framework of OP-Zuid.

Op Zuid