Lignin valorization: lignin nanoparticles as high-value bio-additive for multifunctional nanocompositesReport as inadecuate

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Biotechnology for Biofuels

, 10:192

First Online: 24 July 2017Received: 31 March 2017Accepted: 12 July 2017


BackgroundAlthough conversion of low value but high-volume lignin by-product to its usable form is one of the determinant factors for building an economically feasible integrated lignocellulose biorefinery, it has been challenged by its structural complexity and inhomogeneity. We and others have shown that uniform lignin nanoparticles can be produced from a wide range of technical lignins, despite the varied lignocellulosic biomass and the pretreatment methods-conditions applied. This value-added nanostructure lignin enriched with multifunctional groups can be a promising versatile material platform for various downstream utilizations especially in the emerging nanocomposite fields.

ResultsInspired by the story of successful production and application of nanocellulose biopolymer, two types of uniform lignin nanoparticles LNPs were prepared through self-assembling of deep eutectic solvent DES and ethanol-organosolv extracted technical lignins derived from a two-stage fractionation pretreatment approach, respectively. Both LPNs exhibited sphere morphology with unique core–shell nanostructure, where the DES–LNPs showed a more uniform particle size distribution. When incorporated into the traditional polymeric matrix such as polyvinyl alcohol, these LPN products displayed great potential to formulate a transparent nanocomposite film with additional UV-shielding efficacy reached ~80% at 400 nm with 4 wt% of LNPs and antioxidant functionalities reached ~160 μm mol Trolox g with 4 wt% of LNPs. At the same time, the abundant phenolic hydroxyl groups on the shell of LNPs also provided good interfacial adhesion with PVA matrix through the formation of hydrogen bonding network, which further improved the mechanical and thermal performances of the fabricated LNPs-PVA nanocomposite films.

ConclusionsBoth LNPs are excellent candidates for producing multifunctional polymer nanocomposites using facile technical route. The prepared transparent and flexible LNPs-PVA composite films with high UV-shielding efficacy, antioxidant activity, and biocompatibility are promising in the advanced packaging field, which potentially provides an additional high-value lignin product stream to the lignocellulose biorefinery. This study could open the door for the production and application of novel LNPs in the nascent bioeconomy.Open image in new windowGraphical abstractLignin nanoparticle for transparent nanocomposite film with UV-shielding efficacy

KeywordsLignin nanoparticles UV-shielding Antioxidant Polymer nanocomposite Biorefinery AbbreviationsDESdeep eutectic solvent

LNPslignin nanoparticles

DLNPsdeep eutectic solvent lignin nanoparticles

OLNPsorganosolv lignin nanoparticles

UVultraviolet light

PVApolyvinyl alcohol


TEACtrolox equivalent antioxidant capacity

XRDX-ray diffraction patterns

CrIcrystallinity index

FTIRFourier transform infrared spectroscopy

TEMtransmission electron microscopy

SEMscanning electron microscopy


DSCdifferential scanning calorimetry

TGAthermogravimetric analysis

HPLChigh-performance liquid chromatography

Electronic supplementary materialThe online version of this article doi:10.1186-s13068-017-0876-z contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Author: Dong Tian - Jinguang Hu - Jie Bao - Richard P. Chandra - Jack N. Saddler - Canhui Lu



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