Lignins are natural polymers that give the cell walls of plants their strength, have been called some nasty names: an “ugly, unwieldy molecule,” ornery, tough, and uncooperative. But lignin experts say the unloved, but abundant, substance, is coming into its own as a sustainable and effective alternative to fossil fuels.
The second most abundant polymer in the world after cellulose, lignin is a byproduct of the production of ethanol and the pulp and paper industry. It has long been dismissed as a waste product suitable only for low-level heat generation or as a component of animal feed, in part because it has been difficult and expensive to turn into anything else. Now, it is being looked at as a potentially important source for the production of plant-based biofuels and products such as carbon fiber material, vanillin, and bio-oils.
Those are among dozens of potential applications in development or being scaled up for commercialization. Engineers are working on new ways to break down lignins with modified enzymes or E.coli bacteria to make it usable in the production of nylon, plastics, and chemicals such as muconic acid and pyrogallol. In other applications, researchers have developed a lignin-based fuel cell that doesn’t discharge carbon dioxide, and are working on a biodegradable filament for 3D printing, turning a waste product into a useful asset in an integrated biorefinery, where multiple materials could be produced in one facility.
To bring these ideas to fruition, companies rely on lignin experts who have a strong background in biochemistry, forestry, bioenergy financing, and engineering. They are familiar with technologies for processing lignin and lignocellulose materials and the application of these technologies. They also are knowledgeable about the costs of installation, long-term operations, and maintenance. Experts in lignins can provide due diligence reviews of technologies, aid in the selection of equipment, and can offer basic design services and expertise. They can oversee the fabrication and testing of systems and offer expertise during the installation and commissioning of the systems.
Large renewable energy and biochemical consulting firms like Lee Enterprises Consulting will certainly have experts in lignins. They also offer a wide range of services in the general areas of biofuels, biochemicals, biotechnologies, biomaterials, synthetic biology commercialization, feedstocks, and hemp/cannabis, and will have much-specialized business and financial services like due diligence, feedstock availability, grants, and loans, and bio market research. A big consulting group like this should also offer technical and engineering-related services like techno-economic analysis, environmental evaluations, feasibility studies, risk analysis, and expert witness engagements, and have solid strategic partnerships in place to assist clients with insurance, legal, accounting, plant fabrication, feedstock procurement.
With over 150 experts worldwide, Lee Enterprises Consulting has experts in many specific clean and renewable areas, including anaerobic digestion, fermentation, biomass, conversion technologies for things like tires and railroad ties, organic synthesis, fuel additives, ethanol gas, biodiesel fuel including algae biofuels, solid-state and industrial fermentation, green energy grants, ag-biotech, agricultural waste, alcohol fuels, alternative proteins and animal-free products, sustainable foods, beverage fermentation, biocatalysis, biodiesel conversion, biogas production, biomass power, carbon intensity, co2 utilization, combined heat & power, Fischer-Tropsch technology, food waste, hydrothermal carbonization, industrial enzymes, landfill management, microbial fermentation, organic synthesis, plastic pyrolysis, plastic recycling, plastic waste, pyrolysis oil, reactor design, renewable identification number, the Renewable Fuel Standard (rfs2), solid recovered fuels, torrefaction and torrefied biomass, waste to energy, and waste-to-hydrogen. This is a multidisciplinary group of green energy consultants that is a virtual “one-stop shop” for any client need and handles projects of all types and sizes.
Look at our experts and the services we provide. Most of our experts are also available to advise and serve as expert witnesses in bioeconomy litigation matters. For the larger projects, we specialize in putting together full-service, interdisciplinary teams with one point of contact. See the video about LEC here. Call us at 1+ (501) 833-8511 or email us for more information.