Membrane Separation of the Base-Catalyzed Depolymerization of Black Liquor Retentate for Low-Molecular-Mass Compound Production

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


One way of valorizing the lignin waste stream from the pulp and paper industries is depolymerizing it into low-molecular-mass compounds (LMMC). However, a common problem in the depolymerization of Kraft lignin is the low yields of small aromatic molecules obtained. In the present work, the combination of the repeated depolymerization of lignin and the separation of LMMC from depolymerized lignin to upgrade them into value-added chemicals was studied. In so doing, we investigated the possibility of depolymerizing black liquor retentate (BLR). The base-catalyzed depolymerization of BLR was performed using a continuous flow reactor at 170–210 °C, with a 2 min residence time. The results obtained indicate that BLR can be depolymerized effectively under the experimental conditions. Depolymerized lignin LMMC can be successfully separated by a GR95PP membrane, and thus be protected from repolymerization. Through combining membrane filtration with base-catalyzed depolymerization, more than half of the lignin could be depolymerized into LMMC. Around 46 mg/g of lignin monomers (guaiacol, vanillin, acetovanillone, and acetosyringone), which can potentially be upgraded to high-valued chemicals, were produced. On the basis of our results, we suggest use of a recycling Kraft lignin depolymerization and filtration process for maximizing the production of LMMC under mild alkaline conditions.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Paper, Pulp and Fiber Technology


  • Kraft lignin, Depolymerization, Membrane filtration, low-molecular-mass compounds
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)102
Number of pages16
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Aug 16
Publication categoryResearch