Biorefinery Process Combining Specel® Process and Selective Lignin Precipitation using Mineral Acids

Juan Domínguez-Robles, Eduardo Espinosa, Davide Savy, Antonio Rosal, Alejandro Rodriguez


Soda black liquors from the Specel® process, which used wheat straw as the raw material, were subjected to an acid precipitation process to recover the lignin. Lignin was isolated by acid precipitation using three different inorganics acids (H3PO4, H2SO4, and HCl) at three concentration levels, and at pH values of 2 and 4. Even though the highest lignin yield was achieved using phosphoric acid, the most economical inorganic acid was sulphuric acid. Physico-chemical characterizations of the precipitated lignin samples were performed using differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) (for thermal properties), Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR), and heteronuclear single quantum correlation spectroscopy (HSQC) (for chemical structures). No significant differences were found in the thermal properties and chemical structures of the isolated lignins, except for the lignin obtained with phosphoric acid to lower the black liquor from pH 10.72 to pH 2. Apart from the lignin fraction collected, the soda pulp obtained by the Specel® process using wheat straw could represent a good alternative for packaging industries.


Biorefinery; Agricultural residues; Black liquor; Acid precipitation; Soda lignin; Structural characterization; Heteronuclear single quantum correlation (HSQC) spectroscopy

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