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Lignin

Lignin – nature’s own binder that can replace fossil-based materials

Deep within the cell walls of every tree lies a powerful substance. A substance that provides the second biggest source of renewable carbon on the planet. When extracted and converted, it holds the promise to transform the way we use our natural resources to make products.

What is lignin?

Lignin is a complex plant-derived polymer found in the cell walls of almost all dry-land plants. Trees are composed of 20-30% of lignin, where it acts as a natural and strong binder. It binds cellulose and hemicellulose together, giving wood its stiffness and resistance to rotting. After cellulose, it is the biggest renewable source of carbon anywhere.

Stora Enso's capacity is 50 000 tonnes per year of kraft lignin at its Sunila Mill, in Kotka Finland. Sunila Mill is the largest kraft lignin extraction plant in the world. Here, we have been producing lignin at industrial scale since 2015 and we’re using some of it in our lime kiln to replace the use of fossil-based fuel and reduce our CO2 emissions. All of our lignin is extracted from the kraft pulping process of Nordic softwood, pine and spruce, using the Valmet LignoBoost® technology.

As a material, lignin is:

Lignin is renewable

Lignin applications

Lignin has numerous applications across a variety of industries, including automotive, construction, coatings, plastics and pharmaceuticals. Refined lignin can replace fossil-based phenols that are used in resins for plywood, oriented strand board (OSB), laminated veneer lumber (LVL), paper lamination and insulation material. Other potential uses in the future include carbon fibre and carbon for energy storage.

Stora Enso currently produces and sells lignin in different formats: free-flowing brown powder (dry lignin), wet powder (wet lignin). But in the near future, we will fully replace these qualities with a granulated material for easier handling.

End-use applications

  • Productions of biodegradable polymers/polymer blend

  • Replacement of fossil-based phenols in resins for wood panels including plywood, OSB, LVL and impregnated paper

  • Replacement of fossil-based binders in insulation and particleboard applications (NeoLigno®)

  • Production of bio-asphalt

  • Production bio-based carbon fiber and bio-based carbons for energy storage (Lignode®)

Key benefits

  • Extracted from the kraft pulp process, doesn’t require any additional tree-cutting nor does it generate waste

  • Able to replace fossil-based materials across diverse industries and applications

  • Renewable material of natural origin

  • Traceable origin, from sustainably managed forests with FSC®/PEFC™ chain-of-custody certifications

Lineo® by Stora EnsoLignode® by Stora Enso NeoFiber® by Stora EnsoNeoLigno® by StoraEnso
seedlings

What is a renewable material?

It’s a material that will not run out – such as trees, which can be planted and re-grown. Products made from wood contribute to a circular and more sustainable world.

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