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World first for Swedish environmental technology on a commercial scale

Published 26/03/2013
On 12 March, the North American pulp and paper company Domtar announced that it had started the operation of a facility for separating lignin from the process at its pulp mill in Plymouth, North Carolina. The facility is the first of its kind in the world on a commercial scale, based on the LignoBoost technology developed by Swedish research company Innventia and researchers at Chalmers University of Technology.

Per Tomani with craft lignin from LignoBoost
Per Tomani with lignin from LignoBoost.

The successful installation of the LignoBoost facility represents the culmination of a research and technology project that Domtar began in 2010. BioChoice lignin is Domtar’s name for the product, and production in Plymouth – capacity around 75 tonnes per day – began in February this year. The lignin is intended to be used for a wide range of industrial applications, for example as a bio-based alternative to oil and other fossil fuels, or as a raw material for other materials.

LignoBoost is a unique and effective process for extracting high-quality lignin from kraft pulp mills, and has generated a great deal of interest – both in Sweden and internationally. The technology has been developed since the late 1990s by Innventia in Stockholm, in association with Chalmers University of Technology, within the framework of three research programmes. In 2008, Innventia sold the LignoBoost concept to the technology company Metso, which is now delivering the first facility to Domtar.

“It’s extremely gratifying to see the technology being installed on a full scale,” says Innventia’s Per Tomani, one of the people behind LignoBoost. “Having worked on this right from the beginning, it’s a very special day when production goes live. Lots of people have been involved in the various R&D activities along the way, and I’m sure they all feel the same way too.”

The technology is being continuously improved. Metso and Innventia have been working together since 2008 to refine the technology and to develop new lignin applications in partnership with potential customers. Lignin is one of the main focus areas for Innventia’s research and development, and the work is being carried out in association with customers within the industry.

“It would be fantastic if this were to represent a reversal of the trend,” continues Per. “It creates opportunities for developing kraft pulp mills into modern biorefineries that can supply large volumes of products in addition to the traditional fibre products and by-products – primarily tall oil and electricity.


Per Tomani
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