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Green chemistry

Wednesday, 24 November 2021, presse, Universität, Forschen

Researchers at the University of Graz develop bio-based polymers from paper industry waste

Every year, the paper industry produces around 50 million tonnes of lignin – a substance from the plant cell wall – as waste. Most of it is incinerated, some of it is used industrially, for example in the production of vanillin. As a renewable raw material, however, lignin still has a lot of potential that needs to be tapped. Katalin Barta, a chemist at the University of Graz, and her team have now developed an efficient catalytic method to produce polymers with promising properties from the waste product. These polymers could be suitable for a wide variety of high-tech materials, for example in the automotive industry, and represent a climate-friendly alternative to petroleum-based plastics. The research results were published in the journal Chem Catalysis.

"We succeeded in obtaining a special high-quality diamine from lignin mixtures, a nitrogen compound that plays an important role in industry," Katalin Barta reports. "We obtained this molecule via a series of catalytic processes and then used it to produce a promising class of polymers. Their properties suggest that they could serve as resistant plastics, with multiple applications, such as for car body parts," explains the chemist, whose research is funded by an ERC Starting Grant from the EU. The method is very efficient, ensures easy production and could eventually be applied on an industrial scale.

Publication
A Well-defined Diamine from Lignin Depolymerisation Mixtures for Constructing Bio-based Polybenzoxazines.
Xianyuan Wu, Maxim V. Galkin, Katalin Barta
Chem Catalysis, DOI 10.1016/j.checat.2021.10.022

www.cell.com/chem-catalysis/fulltext/S2667-1093(21)00287-6

 

Green chemistry
Katalin Barta's research focuses on sustainable methods, renewable raw materials and environmentally friendly reactions. This makes the chemist at the University of Graz part of the field of excellence "Climate Change Graz". Numerous publications attest to her successful work. A "green" method developed by her team for splitting wood into cellulose and lignin was published in the renowned journal Nature Communications in September 2021. Instead of organic solvents, which are CO2-intensive and toxic, the chemist uses reusable alternative solvents from renewable resources. In addition to the environmental aspect, the method is also characterised by the high quality of the end products cellulose and lignin obtained with it.

Publication
Tunable and functional deep eutectic solvents for lignocellulose valorization.
Yongzhuang Liu, Noemi Deak, Zhiwen Wang, Haipeng Yu, Lisanne Hameleers, Edita Jurak, Peter J. Deuss & Katalin Barta
Nature Communications volume 12, Article number: 5424 (2021)

www.nature.com/articles/s41467-021-25117-1

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