Delicare Proposal

Delicare proposal: Acrylic resins as alternative to fossil raw materials

Acrylic resins from lignin: new value chains for the development of relevant applications to replace fossil-based counterparts What are the applications? Or can you contribute to the production of 3D printed catalysts? Read on and become a partner in this vital research project!

Context project

Aromatic chemicals form a significant part (40%) of today’s chemical building blocks for a wide range of products and applications. About 25% of the world’s production, which amounts to more than 23 million tonnes, is in Europe. However, these aromatic chemicals are currently extracted from fossil raw materials. Given its molecular structure, lignin, as a renewable resource, is a promising alternative to fossil raw materials to produce aromatics.

European research centres have pioneered the production of aromatic building blocks from such renewable raw materials. According to the Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda (SIRA) of BBI (Biobased industries), 25% of all chemicals and materials should be bio-based by 2030, and CO2 emissions should be reduced by 50%. Achieving these ambitious targets will require sustainable, resource-efficient and economically viable industrial processes for the conversion of renewable raw materials into a wide range of bio-based products.

Development of acrylic resins

The Delicare proposal addresses these challenges by focusing on the production of lignin-based oils from the hydrolysis of lignins. These intermediates will be converted into acrylic resins used as additives in applications such as sunscreens and anti-ageing lotions, as well as in films and coatings.

To fully exploit the potential of this type of lignin as a source of platform molecules to replace their fossil counterparts, there is thus an urgent need to “liquefy” lignin via catalytic depolymerisation, resulting in improved properties for the development of acrylic resins.

In this proposal, the transition to sustainable value chains will be initiated by fundamental research for the sustainable production of acrylic resins derived from the hydrolysis of lignin via catalytic depolymerisation. This will create several new value chains for the development of value-added applications that can replace fossil-based counterparts at competitive costs.

Scientific challenges and key valorisation objectives

The main scientific challenges will be addressed. Strategies to increase the solubility, while maintaining the original lignin structure, are needed as well as some new analytical methods to solve the solubility problems. A challenge is the development of selective, durable and stable catalysts for the reductive depolymerisation. To succeed in the development of lignin-based acrylates, new innovative solutions will be investigated and applied. Optimisation of the formulation and processability is essential.

The main valorisation objectives are:

  1. Making hydrolysed lignin available for new applications through suitable solubilisation and lignin pretreatment strategies
  2. New analytical method development/implementation for hydrolysis lignin characterisation
  3. Innovative 3D-printed catalyst production for lignin depolymerisation purposes
  4. Development of kinetic, reactor and process models
  5. Valorisation of lignin-derived acrylates as high-performance additives and bulk materials

Has this project caught your attention and are you looking for more information? Then feel free to contact An Verberckmoes and she will be happy to help you!