Enzymatic solubilization of LIGNIN at neutral pH and its uses

Description: In this joint project between our Team, Team 1 and CRPP scientists, we propose to develop and optimize an organic free solvent and non-toxic technology to enzymatically solubilize industrial lignin in an aqueous environment. Two major applications are envisioned for the lignin valorization: the synthesis of low molecular weight phenolic and aromatic compounds that could serve as building blocks for syntheses of low and high-value chemicals and the development of low cost and sustainable lignin-based carbon fibers which would be an alternative to petroleum-based carbon fibers.
Since lignin is solubilized in neutral pH and may have access to building block impossible to obtain at low pH, we intend to synthesize low and high-value chemicals. The low-value chemical could find applications as binders, fillers, surfactants, dispersants and high-value chemical could be used to synthesize polymers or in the cosmetics industry. Among the chemicals which could be obtained, vanillin is the most promising to develop new biobased polymers with aromatic structures as we have recently shown.
We also aim at elaborating lignin-based carbon fibers using enzymatically solubilized lignin via a water-based wet-spinning process. Carbon fibers have various applications in high-value applications (aerospace, aircraft industries, etc.). Most carbon fibers commercially available are produced from material derived from the petrochemical industry (for example Polyacrylonitrile (PAN) precursors). A high demand towards low-cost carbon fibers provoked worldwide efforts to develop carbon fibers with an average performance at reduced prices and preferentially from materials not derived from the petrochemical industry.

Partners: Centre de Recherche Paul Pascal, (CRPP), UMR 5031

Oxidation of phenolic (A) and non-phenolic (B) compounds by laccases.