Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems

Lignin Chemistry

The Lignin Chemistry research group is led by Prof. Mikhail Balakshin. The core of our activity are practical issues of lignin valorization.
Image shows a road that leads out of the forest. On the road there is a sheme of the macromolecule lignin shown and there is a street sign indicating the end of the fossil resource era and the beginning of the biorefinery era.

Our Research areas:

  1. Lignin Analytics 

  2. Lignin Engineering

  3. Integrated Biorefinery

Our core knowledge is in deep understanding of lignin chemistry and technology. We are working on engineering of optimal lignins for specific applications by elucidating the correlation between process conditions, lignin structure, lignin properties and application performance. To achieve this challenging, yet very important task, we cooperate with artificial intelligence groups and application experts at our Department, University and worldwide.

Our research areas in images:

This image shows the route to biomass valorization informed by artificial intelligence.

Lignin Engineering: Process, Structure, Properties, and Application Performance

For more information click here: https://doi.org/10.1002/cssc.202002553

The image shows a new model of spruce lignin

Lignin Analytics: New Model of Spruce Lignin

For more information click here: https://doi.org/10.1039/D0GC00926A

Image shows the process of producing lignin micro-nanoparticles by an aerosol flow reactor

Integrated biorefinery: lignin micro-/nanoparticles from biorefinery lignin

For more information click here: https://doi.org/10.1021/acssuschemeng.9b06511

Lignin is the only large renewable source of green aromatic chemicals and polymers and therefore the key player in the modern and future biorefinery. However, lignin commercialization for high-value products is very challenging due to its very complex nature and the high variety of different technical lignins. Our group is addressing this challenge by developing best lignin types for specific applications via understanding the correlation between process conditions, lignin structures and properties and their performance in specific applications using advanced methodology (new biorefinery processes, cutting-edge analytics, artificial intelligence).

We are looking for further fruitful cooperation with different groups working in various areas of lignin production and applications in academia, research institutes and industry.

1. Lignin Analytics

We focus on state-of-the-art analysis of lignin and lignin carbohydrate complexes

The image shows an Overview of NMR Methods needed for lignin analysis

Comparison of Different NMR Methods:

  • These methods are complementary;

  • The best method is dependent on the research task and substrate type

The image shows two 13C NMR spectra of aspen milled wood lignin

Lignin structure on a functional level can be described comprehensively by advanced 13C NMR.

For more information click here: https://doi.org/10.1039/C5RA16649G

2D and 3D NMR technique

Heteronuclear Single Quantum Coherence (HSQC) Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Spectroscopy

Lignin engineering, cycle

2. Lignin Engineering:

Lignin valorization requires tremendous analytical efforts and method development including lignin structural analysis and, especially, high‐throughput methods for the evaluation of lignin performance in specific applications.

New and comprehensive lignin structure–performance relationships are urgently needed in order to be able to engineer lignins and lignin properties to certain application requirements.

3. Integrated Biorefinery

We focus on:

  • Full valorization of the feedstock
  • Ligno-cellulosic synergism in biorefinery streams

CHEM/BIO/Biorefineries

Integrated biorefinery: full valorization of the feedstock

One-pot lignin upgrade  by reactive extraction

One-pot reactive extraction of lignin - an efficient strategy for producing upgraded lignins

Current group members:

 Mikahil Balakshin

Mikahil Balakshin

Head of the group, Professor of Practice
 Philipp Johannes Schlee

Philipp Johannes Schlee

Postdoctoral researcher
 Dmitry Tarasov

Dmitry Tarasov

Postdoctoral researcher

Our alumni:

 Nerea Abad Fernandez

Nerea Abad Fernandez

 Tainise Vergara Lourençon

Tainise Vergara Lourençon

 Carlos Eduardo Silveira

Carlos Eduardo Silveira

 Zhu Xuhai

Zhu Xuhai

Collaboration

We collaborate with:

Our collaborators

Patrick Rinke

Patrick Rinke

Professori (Associate professor)

Joakim Löfgren

Postdoctoral researcher
 Assistant Professor Mika Sipponen

Assistant Professor Mika Sipponen

Head of Stockholm University's Sipponen Lab
 Adrian Moreno Guerra

Adrian Moreno Guerra

Postdoctoral Fellow, Stockholm University's Sipponen Lab
 Ewellyn Capanema

Ewellyn Capanema

Principal Scientist, RISE
 María José Cocero Alonso

María José Cocero Alonso

Director, Valladolid University's Institute of Bioeconomy
 Eduardo Perez Velilla

Eduardo Perez Velilla

Valladolid University's Institute of Bioeconomy
 Tijana Adamovich

Tijana Adamovich

Valladolid University's Institute of Bioeconomy
 Antje Potthast

Antje Potthast

Professor, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna
 Thomas Rosenau

Thomas Rosenau

Professor, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna
 Irina Sulaeva

Irina Sulaeva

Researcher, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna
 Andrey Pranovich

Andrey Pranovich

Senior Researcher, Åbo Akademi's Laboratory of Natural Materials Technology
 Chunlin Xu

Chunlin Xu

Professor, Åbo Akademi's Laboratory of Natural Materials Technology
 Kyösti Ruuttunen

Kyösti Ruuttunen

Senior University Lecturer in the Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems
 Luiz Greca

Luiz Greca

Doctoral candidate in the Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems

Latest publications:

Transparent, smooth, and sustainable cellulose-derived conductive film applied for the flexible electronic device

Xi Liu, Wei Xiao, Tao Tao, JIawei Yang, Huixin Li, Qunfeng Chen, Liulian Huang, Yonghao Ni, Lihui Chen, Xinhua Ouyang, Xuhai Zhu, Jianguo Li 2021 Carbohydrate Polymers

Cellulose-lignin composite fibres as precursors for carbon fibres. Part 1 – Manufacturing and properties of precursor fibres

Mikaela Trogen, Nguyen Duc Le, Daisuke Sawada, Chamseddine Guizani, Tainise Vergara Lourençon, Leena Pitkänen, Herbert Sixta, Riddhi Shah, Hugh O'Neill, Mikhail Balakshin, Nolene Byrne, Michael Hummel 2021 Carbohydrate Polymers

Erratum

Mikhail Balakshin, Ewellyn Augsten Capanema, Xuhai Zhu, Irina Sulaeva, Antje Potthast, Thomas Rosenau, Orlando J. Rojas 2020 Green Chemistry

New Opportunities in the Valorization of Technical Lignins

Mikhail Yu Balakshin, Ewellyn A. Capanema, Irina Sulaeva, Philipp Schlee, Zeen Huang, Martin Feng, Maryam Borghei, Orlando J. Rojas, Antje Potthast, Thomas Rosenau 2020 ChemSusChem

Spruce milled wood lignin : Linear, branched or cross-linked?

Mikhail Balakshin, Ewellyn Augsten Capanema, Xuhai Zhu, Irina Sulaeva, Antje Potthast, Thomas Rosenau, Orlando J. Rojas 2020 Green Chemistry

Solubility study of lignin in industrial organic solvents and investigation of electrochemical properties of spray-coated solutions

Arman Dastpak, Tainise Vergara Lourencon, Mikhail Balakshin, Farhan Hashmi, Mari Lundström, Benjamin P. Wilson 2020 Industrial Crops and Products

Water molecule “spinning cutter” controllably improving the performance of cellulosic fibers

Jianguo Li, Tao Tao, Chong Luo, Xi Liu, Xuhai Zhu, Liulian Huang, Xinhua Ouyang, Yonghao Ni, Lihui Chen 2020 Cellulose

Phenol-formaldehyde resins with suitable bonding strength synthesized from "less-reactive" hardwood lignin fractions

Tainise V. Lourençon, Sami Alakurtti, Tommi Virtanen, Anna Stiina Jääskeläinen, Tiina Liitiä, Mark Hughes, Washington L.E. Magalhães, Graciela I.B. Muniz, Tarja Tamminen 2020 Holzforschung

Pilot-Scaled Fast-Pyrolysis Conversion of Eucalyptus Wood Fines into Products

Mailson Matos, Bruno D. Mattos, Pedro H.G. de Cademartori, Tainise V. Lourençon, Fabrício A. Hansel, Patrícia R.S. Zanoni, Carlos I. Yamamoto, Washington L.E. Magalhães 2020 BIOENERGY RESEARCH

Hardwood versus softwood Kraft lignin-precursor-product relationships in the manufacture of porous carbon nanofibers for supercapacitors

Philipp Schlee, Omid Hosseinaei, Christopher A. O'Keefe, María José Mostazo-López, Diego Cazorla-Amorós, Servann Herou, Per Tomani, Clare P. Grey, Maria Magdalena Titirici 2020 Journal of Materials Chemistry A
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