Swedish forest industry major Södra has disclosed that it plans to add a new "second-generation" type of kraft lignin to its range of forest-based materials. Further, it is seeking partners to develop lignin-based sustainable alternatives to fossil materials in a range of applications.
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Södra is the largest forest-owner association in Sweden and an international forest industry group major.
With raw materials sourced from 52 000 forest owners’ sustainably managed forests, Södra produces timber products, pulp, and green energy – and says that it is “always looking to develop new products from this renewable material.”
Södra is today a leading supplier of pulp with customers across large parts of the world and a global logistics network.
The pulp mills produce both paper pulp for paper production and dissolving pulp for the textile industry.
Significant potential in lignin as a sustainable material
In the unique “OnceMore” process, Södra recycles textile fibres on a large scale and enables circular flows within the textile industry.
Products from the mills also include biomethanol, tall oil, and turpentine which are marketed under the company’s “Liquid Forest” brand and contribute to the responsible use of the raw material.
The plans to make lignin available to the market, in large quantities and with consistent quality, are the latest example of the aspiration that no part of the tree should ever go to waste.
As one of the world’s largest producers of pulp from forest raw materials, Södra extracts millions of tonnes of lignin from wood annually.
A sustainable society needs to find new ways of using natural resources. Around a quarter of a tree consists of lignin which means our pulp mills produce it in large quantities, said Johannes Bogren, VP of Södra Cell Bioproducts.
Contained in the black liquor much of the lignin generated by pulp mills is currently used for energy in recovery boilers.
However, with its bonding properties, lignin has significant potential as a sustainable material.
Just as it does inside a tree, lignin today is used mostly as a binder in the chemical industry, and above all in different types of glue.
It has been used for several decades for various applications, including as a dispersant for concrete and plasterboard, and as a binder in road stabilization and animal feed.
Biochemical base opens new opportunities
But much wider use of lignin is possible since its phenolic structure is excellent as a base for chemicals and raw materials that are currently based on fossil materials.
Now the second-generation lignin is here, a kraft lignin available in solid form, offering many new uses.
We always strive to make the best possible use of our forest raw material and lignin has the potential to replace fossil materials and contribute to the green transition, Johannes Bogren said.
Södra plans to make large volumes of this new type of kraft lignin ready for the market and says it is looking for new partnerships to do so.
Research is underway for everything from lightweight automotive components to sustainable ingredients in road surfacing. We are already talking to several like-minded companies about lignin, but our type of kraft lignin is still a new and largely unexplored raw material. That’s why we’re looking for people who’d like to start a conversation on supporting a fossil-free society together. Could lignin be a future raw material for you and your business? If so, come and explore its potential with us, ended Viktor Odenbrink, Sales Manager, Södra Cell Bioproducts with a pitch.