A new processing method converts a primary waste product of the paper industry into chemicals used to make nylon.
A research project at the U.S. Department of Energy Ames Laboratory has developed a two-step process that transforms waste Kraft lignin into building blocks used in the manufacture of nylon.
Lignin, the “glue” that holds together wood fibers, is left over after the cellulose is separated from wood pulp for use in paper production. Worldwide, papermaking generates about 50 million tons (45 metric tonnes) of lignin annually. About 85 percent of this is Kraft lignin, a byproduct of the widely used Kraft pulping process, according to ScienceDirect.