Scientists have found a way to turn paper waste into nylon

Researchers develop technology for converting kraft lignin into valuable chemical precursors for nylon production.

Lignin is one of the main by-products of the papermaking process, which is often burned to generate heat. However, scientists at the US Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory have discovered that it can be used to make a number of expensive chemicals commonly derived from petroleum..

To do this, the team depolymerized lignin with an aqueous solution of sodium hydroxide at a temperature of 200 °C in a nitrogen atmosphere with atmospheric pressure to obtain guaiacol. Studies have shown that the substance is formed mainly due to the breaking of bonds β-O-4 in the original by-product structure.

Then, using a Ru / C catalyst and 1 bar hydrogen, the scientists converted guaiacol into ketone alcohol (a precursor to nylon) without the unwanted byproduct of methoxycyclohexanol..

Scientists have found a way to turn paper waste into nylon

This two-step process is a low-energy and environmentally friendly way to make a variety of high-value chemicals, the team said..

Recently, researchers have also used lignin-derived vanillin to make redox electrolyte flow battery.

text: Ilya Bauer, photo: Briket, Ames Laboratory

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