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:

 Mikhail Balakshin

Mikhail Balakshin

Head of the group, Professor of Practice
 Philipp Schlee

Philipp Schlee

Postdoctoral researcher
 Dmitry Tarasov

Dmitry Tarasov

Postdoctoral researcher
 Daryna Diment

Daryna Diment

PhD student
 Jéssica de Souza Rodrigues

Jéssica de Souza Rodrigues

PhD student (visiting)
 Yuliya Popova

Yuliya Popova

PhD student (visiting)
 Madina Muratova

Madina Muratova

Research assistant

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

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Organ type of image with white "veins" and small bacteria dots in red background, original image by Valeria Azovskaya

Latest publications:

The image shows a road that splits into three parts. One leading to Sugar and Bioethanol one to high value products like carbon fibers and one to manmade fibers

New Opportunities in the Valorization of Technical Lignins (external link)

Most recent review paper published by the Lignin Chemistry Group

Picture shows a flow chart from hydrothermal treatment to lignin micro/nanoparticles via an aerosol flow process

Low-Cost Biorefinery Particles from hydrothermally treated birch wood (external link)

Micro- and nanoparticles from biorefinery lignins by using an aerosol flow system

The term Research database with an open book is shown

More publications (external link)

Click here for more publications

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