Domtar has installed a commercial-scale lignin separation plant at its Plymouth, N.C. mill, the first U.S. facility of its type in over 25 years the company says. The production of BioChoice lignin began in February, with a targeted rate of 75 tons a day, destined for a wide range of industrial applications as a bio-based alternative to the use of petroleum and other fossil fuels.
The installation of commercial-scale lignin removal capacity at the Plymouth Mill is the culmination of a research and engineering project launched by Domtar in 2010. This project was further boosted when the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Energy awarded the company a grant through the Biomass Research and Development Initiative. Domtar’s lignin operation sets a new path for the industry and also marks the latest sustainability milestone for the company.
“Our vision is to be a global leader in fiber-based innovation,” says Bruno Marcoccia, Domtar’s director of research and development. “A big part of this is our focus on partnering with best-in class collaborators to develop new products and markets for a wide portfolio of initiatives, like BioChoice.”
“The possibilities for making a real difference in terms of offering manufacturers a bio-based alternative to the use of petrochemicals is truly exciting,” says Hasan Jameel, a professor in North Carolina State University’s Department of Forest Biomaterials. “This is a big win for sustainability on two counts—Domtar improves the efficiency of its pulp-making process, and at the same time the market gets a reliable, high-quality source of this underused material with so much potential.”