2022 journal article
The Effect of the Kraft Pulping Process, Wood Species, and pH on Lignin Recovery from Black Liquor
Lignin has shown a great potential to produce fuels, value-added chemicals, and functional materials due to its high-energy density and intrinsic aromatic-based structure. Yet, the lignin precipitation of different biomasses needs investigation because most of the work has been performed on softwood and much less is known about hardwoods. In fact, the lignin from these two wooden biomasses vary in composition and pulping performance, which can reflect on lignin precipitation. Therefore, the present study investigated the precipitation and composition of 40 distinct kraft lignins obtained from pine, acacia, sweetgum, and eucalyptus black liquors. Two lignin fractions were precipitated at different pHs, according to known industrial lignin separation practices (pH = 9.5 and 2.5) from black liquors taken at different levels of pulping. Overall, lignin recovery increased with increasing lignin concentration in the black liquor, i.e., higher amounts of lignin were obtained at higher levels of delignification. In addition, pine lignins showed superior yields than the hardwoods and were around five times purer. Among the hardwoods, lignin recovery increased with the S–G ratio of the native lignin, and eucalyptus showed the best performance by achieving the highest yields and purities. Finally, the present work compared the lignin recovery yield and the purity of softwood and different hardwood lignins in a systematic way, which will increase awareness of this underutilized green material and could potentially increase the interest in establishing new lignin plants across the globe.