Prof. Jalel Labidi
Chemical and Environmental Engineering Department, University of the Basque Country , Spain
Plaza Europa 1 20018 Donostia-San Sebastián (Spain)

Materials and Energy from Lignin


In recent years, the interest in using biomass as a feedstock as alternative to fossil fuels has been increased. Among the constituent of lignocellulosic biomass lignin is the less exploited polymer. Lignin is the second most abundant biopolymer after cellulose, its main functions in plants are to provide rigidity and physical strength to plants, internal transport of water and nutrients and protect plants from microorganisms and insects. Lignin is a by-product of paper and pulp industry and ethanol refineries it is generated in large quantities annually, also can be obtained from other sources like agricultural wastes, forest residues and industrial subproducts by different extraction methods. Lignin has a complex heterogeneous structure that consists of phenylpropane units that comes from three aromatic alcohols p-coumaryl, coniferyl and sinapyl alcohols. The chemical structure of lignin has notable distinction depending on the origin, growing conditions of the plant and used extraction process. Although the heterogeneity of its structure creates some limitations, their composition and abundance makes it an attractive alternative to replace no-renewable sources and it could be recognized as an important feedstock in biorefinery processes for the production of energy, fuels, chemicals and materials. Lignin is an excellent energy source due to their high heating value (26-28 MJ/ton dry lignin). It is suitable to produce electricity, power, fuel, steam, or syngas. Lignin has an enormous potential for use as a raw material in the polymer industry. The lignin addition has an important influence in thermal and mechanical behavior of some polymers. Chemical modification is an alternative to improve the reactivity of the lignin trough the creation of new actives sites or functionalization of hydroxyl groups giving to lignin new functionalities for different applications in the field of materials and energy. .


Jalel Labidi has a Chemical Engineering degree and a PhD in Chemical Engineering from the Polytechnic Institute of Lorraine (France). He has developed his research career in several centers: Ecole Polytechnique of Montreal (Canada), CanmetENERGY (Canada), CNRS (France), University of Girona and finally at the University of the Basque Country. Currently it is permanent researcher in the Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering of the University of the Basque Country. He is the responsible for the research group "Biorefinery Process" (BioRP) recognized by the UPV/EHU and the Basque Government.