​Lignin

Sappi's lignosulphonate interests:

  • Sappi Biotech’s lignin activities date back almost 100 years, and
  • Today Sappi Biotech has operations in Europe and South Africa.

The usefulness of commercial lignosulphonate products is based on their various properties:

• Binding: A very effective and economical adhesive, acting as a binding agent or ‘glue’ in pellets or compressed materials
• Dispersing: Prevents the clumping and settling of undissolved particles in suspensions. By attaching to the particle surface, lignosulphonate keeps the particle from being attracted to other particles and reduces the amount of water or dilution needed to use the product effectively
• Emulsifying: Stabilises emulsions of liquids like oil and water which do not form a homogenous mixture when added together, making them highly resistant to separating, and
• Sequestration: Ties up metal ions, preventing them from reacting with other compounds and becoming insoluble. Metal ions sequestered with lignosulphonate stay dissolved in solution, keeping them available to plants and preventing scaly deposits in water systems.

A wide variety of uses

The binding ability of lignosulphonate makes it a useful component of biodegradable plastic, coal briquettes, plywood and particle board, ceramics, animal feed pellets, carbon black, fibreglass insulation, fertilisers and herbicides, linoleum paste, dust suppressants and soil stabilisers. Lignosulphonate is used on unpaved roads to reduce environmental concerns from airborne dust particles and to stabilise the road surface.

The dispersing property makes lignosulphonate useful in cement products, leather tanning, clay and ceramics, concrete admixtures, dyes and pigments, gypsum board, oil drilling muds, pesticides and insecticides.

Their emulsification properties enable it to be used as an emulsifier in asphalt concrete, pesticides, pigments and dyes, and wax emulsions, amongst other things.

The sequestration properties allow it to be used in micronutrient systems, cleaning compounds, water treatments for boilers and cooling systems.

The origin of Sappi's lignin business is in Europe and dates back almost 100 years. Sappi has been producing lignosulphonate from Tugela Mill in South Africa since 2012. We are now looking into expanding our lignin range and the list of lignin and lignosulphonate applications.

Interested in this product?
Get in touch with us at Lignin@sappi.com
Working with application experts, we have embarked on a programme to characterise the different lignin sources in Sappi and to identify new market opportunities.
2015 Sappi Annual Integrated Report

Lignosulphonate can be used in a wide variety of applications.

New developments in wood processing supports the move to a biobased economy that utilises materials that are renewable and biodegradable and that do not compete with food sources.

Sappi’s patented process, developed with Edinburgh Napier University, reduces the energy required to process woodfibres into nanocellulose thus enhancing our product’s sustainability.

Hemicellulose sugars from trees are referred to as second generation sugars and do not compete with food crops unlike first generation hemicellulose sugars from agricultural crops.

Sappi is focusing on green energy generation in line with our strategic focus to derive value from energy opportunities and in light of sustainability and efficiency drivers.

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