Chemical methods to increase the reactivity  of lignin : In the context of green chemistry  and education for sustainable development

Detta är en Uppsats för yrkesexamina på avancerad nivå från KTH/Skolan för teknikvetenskaplig kommunikation och lärande (ECE)


The research  concerning lignin in high value applications has increased  during the last years due to its renewability and availability in the black liquor from pulp mills. Today  the major part of kraft lignin found  in the black liquor is used as fuel to gain energy  in the recovery boiler. Lignin functions as natural  glue in plants so that the function of kraft lignin as a phenol replacement in wood adhesives has been researched. Due to lignin's low reactivity the molecule must be modified  prior to use. Demethylation is a method  to increase the phenolic content  in lignin to produce  more reactive  sites. Thiol  mediated  and iodine mediated demethylation was performed. Demethylated lignin was characterized by changes  in phenolic and hydroxylic groups,  molecular  mass, elemental  composition and other  properties  using methods including  UV, SEC and 31 P NMR.


The results showed  a decrease in the phenolic  content  contrary  to the increase  that was expected. Really low yields were also gained  which makes the results non-representative. Size evaluation showed  that the percentage of high molecular  content  in the demethylated lignin sample  had increased,  which  point towards the loss of low molecular mass fractions.  Due to demethylation lignin may have been more hydrophilic and soluble  in DMF and water. In addition  to this bond cleavage  may have produced  smaller  fragments which also increase  the solubility. The results point towards  the loss of smaller  fragments in the DMF and water phases.


The applied demethylation methods were evaluated  in context of green chemistry. Production, waste,  involving chemicals and efficiency were discussed  and analyzed. The applied demethylation methods  use DMF as solvent  which  is not a green alternative, greener solvents such as water or other energy  adding  methods  could  be used to make the process  greener.  The use ofNaOMe produces  methanol  as a byproduct  which could be eliminated by using NaOH, future studies  on the efficiency of the bases in the needs to be done.


Nature science  has a reputation  of being hard and firm. By bringing  in social  issues in science education new ways of looking  at science  opens  up. A social problem  and at the same time an environmental problem  in today's  society  is the large plastic mountain in the Pacific Ocean. An educational material  of the "Samhallsfragor med Naturvetenskapligt Innehiill",SNI, (Societal  issues with scientific content)  principle  has been evaluated with respect  to the abilities that can developed together  with whether  students  increase  their science  knowledge through  this. The study showed  that students  can develop  almost  all abilities  described  in the curriculum and their knowledge in science  by this type of material.

Keywords Biomaterial, lignin reactivity,  thiol mediated  demethylation, iodine mediated demethylation, green chemistry, SNl-fall.


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