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Upgrading of lignins from sugar cane into thermoplastic materials

Grant number: 18/12516-5
Support Opportunities:Regular Research Grants
Duration: November 01, 2020 - October 31, 2023
Field of knowledge:Physical Sciences and Mathematics - Chemistry - Organic Chemistry
Convênio/Acordo: Federal Ministry of Education and Research, Germany
Principal Investigator:Antonio Aprigio da Silva Curvelo
Grantee:Antonio Aprigio da Silva Curvelo
Principal researcher abroad: Peter Eisner
Institution abroad: Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, Germany
Host Institution: Instituto de Química de São Carlos (IQSC). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Carlos , SP, Brazil


The living standard of the modern society is largely based on materials made out of functional plastics. To maintain and improve this standard new sustainable approaches for the production of polymeric-materials have to be considered. The use of bio-based plastics is one approach to tackle this issue. Lignin from biomass is one of the most abundant natural polymers. It is expected that due to the increase in 2nd generation bioethanol production, a new source of lignin will be increasingly available and surpass demand. Due to its availability, low price and unique properties numerous attempts were made to use lignin for plastic production. Despite promising results the valorisation of lignin was often hindered due to variable quality and poor processability of the resulting polymer. The main objective of this project is the utilization of sugarcane lignin as biogenic resource for thermoplastic biomaterials. This objective will be achieved by applying mild chemical and enzymatic processes to derivatize moieties in the molecular structure of lignin. For this, 8 work packages were defined, including raw material pre-treatment and modification as well as scale-up, material development and characterization and economic evaluation. The main goal of this project is the conversion of residual sugarcane lignin into a bioplastic with high functionality. To achieve this overall aim, the following specific objectives are addresses: Providing thermoplastic properties to lignin by using a combination of mechanical, thermal, chemical, enzymatic and solvent treatments; Proving feasibility of the processes in pilot scale; Development of lignin based compounds and composites; Thermoplastic processing of the compounds by mould injection and extrusion; Demonstrating the high functionality of the novel bioplastic using prototypes. This will enable the research teams in Germany and Brazil to develop new scientific contributions, as well as the companies to provide new products and services based on the valorisation of sugarcane lignin. (AU)

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