NREL study demonstrates new conversion of lignin to industrial adipic acid

By: InnovatioNews Monday March 2, 2015 0 comments Tags: adipic acid, biofuels, Golden, Gregg Beckham, lignin, NREL


NREL logoGOLDEN - A new study from the DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) demonstrates the conversion of lignin-derived compounds to adipic acid, an important industrial dicarboxylic acid produced for its use as a precursor to nylon, plasticizers, lubricants, polyesters and other popular products and chemicals.

NREL said the demonstration is an important step toward the goal of creating more uses from lignin, which could be crucial for the economic success of the biofuels industry.

The demonstration also shows that adipic acid can be produced from a renewable resource, which may have important ramifications for mitigating greenhouse gases, NREL said.

A report published in Energy & Environmental Science demonstrates how lignin-derived compounds can first be converted to muconic acid - a step toward conversion into adipic acid - via a biological process.

NREL said a patent application has been filed on the research and the NREL tech transfer office will be working with researchers to identify potential licensees of the technology.

"The current industrial pathway to produce adipic acid involves oxidation of cyclohexanol and cyclohexanone with nitric acid, which is a harsh process that produces nitrous oxide that must be cleaned up," said Gregg Beckham, NREL senior engineer and co-author of the study.

"The development of a new process toward converting renewable lignin feedstocks to adipic acid could potentially provide positive economic benefits and greenhouse gas offsets, but certainly major technology improvements must still be made."

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