A new process developed for separation of lignin from ammonium hydroxide pretreatment solutions


  • This article is a US Government work and, as such, is in the public domain in the United States of America.


A method is described for separating lignin from liquid solutions resulting from the pretreatment of lignocellulosic materials such as switchgrass with ammonium hydroxide. The method involves a sequence of steps including acidification, evaporation, and precipitation or centrifugation that are performed under defined conditions, and results in a relatively pure, solid lignin product. The method is tested on ammonium hydroxide solutions containing lignin extracted from switchgrass. Experimental results show that the method is capable of recovering between 66–95% of dissolved lignin as a precipitated solid. Cost estimates of pilot-scale and industrial-scale expressions of the process indicate that breakeven lignin prices of $2.36/kg and $0.78/kg, respectively, may be obtainable with this recovery method. © 2011 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Environ Prog, 2012