To reduce the dependence on fossil fuel, empty fruit bunch (EFB) lignin residue, a waste material generated from second-generation lignocellulosic biomass was used for the production of biopolyol and biopolyurethanes. The acid–base-catalyzed two-step liquefaction process was carried out to drive residual lignin into value-added products. The reaction condition for the second step (base-catalyzed liquefaction) was optimized to reduce molecular weight and lower the acid number below 5 mg KOH/g for preparing more suitable biopolyol. The optimal condition was determined at 2 wt% of catalyst loading and 130 °C reaction temperature for a reaction time of 60 min. By employing the upgraded two-step liquefaction process, biopolyol with a molecular weight of 4724 g/mol, a viscosity of 1.14 Pa s and a hydroxyl number of 816 mg KOH/g was obtained from low-grade lignin. The resulting biopolyol was converted to biopolyurethane elastomer and biopolyurethane foam with p-TDI and p-MDI as isocyanate, respectively. The biopolyurethane elastomer exhibited a high temperature at 10% weight loss Td10 of 318 °C and temperature at 50% weight loss Td50 of 386 °C. Besides, the biopolyurethane foam possesses a compressive strength and density of 99 kPa and 24.8 kg/m3, which are properties comparable with petroleum-derived polyurethane.
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This work was supported by the R&D Program of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE)/Korea Evaluation Institute of Industrial Technology (KEIT) (Project No. 10049675). This research was also supported by the C1 Gas Refinery Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Science and ICT (2015M3D3A1A01064882).
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Lee, Y., Tran, M.H. & Lee, E.Y. Acid–base-catalyzed two-step liquefaction of empty fruit bunch lignin residue for preparation of biopolyol and high-performance biopolyurethanes. Wood Sci Technol (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00226-021-01267-9