New lignin-solvent process harvests biofuel
The Wisconsin Institute for Sustainable Technology (WIST) has developed an aqueous solvent that separates cellulosic material into pure cellulose and lignin, the substance that gives woody biomass its rigidity. The lignin-solvent mixture can then be separated from the water and becomes a high-energy-density fuel that can be used independently or in combination with biodiesel.
Besides the lignin-solvent process, WIST hopes to develop a bio-refinery that could be fitted to existing paper mills or to revive idle ones. They have performed the process in the lab and now are looking to develop it into a demonstration-scale plant.
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