Carbon Materials from Technical Lignins: Recent Advances
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Lignin, a major component of lignocellulosic biomass, is generated in enormous amounts during the pulp production. It is also a major coproduct of second generation biofuels. The effective utilization of lignin is critical for the accelerated development of the advanced cellulosic biorefinery. Low cost and availability of lignin make it attractive precursor for preparation of a range of carbon materials, including activated carbons, activated carbon fibers (CF), structural CF, graphitic carbons or carbon black that could be used for environmental protection, as catalysts, in energy storage applications or as reinforcing components in advanced composite materials. Technical lignins are very diverse in terms of their molecular weight, structure, chemical reactivity, and chemical composition, which is a consequence of the different origin of the lignin and the various methods of lignin isolation. The inherent heterogeneity of lignin is the main obstacle to the preparation of high-performance CF. Although lignin-based CF still do not compete with polyacrylonitrile-derived CF in mechanical properties, they nevertheless provide new markets through high availability and low production costs. Alternatively, technical lignin could be used for production of carbon adsorbents, which have very high surface areas and pore volumes comparable to the best commercial activated carbons. These porous carbons are useful for purifying gas and aqueous media from organic pollutants or adsorption of heavy metal ions from aqueous solutions. They also could be used as catalysts or electrodes in electrochemical applications.
KeywordsLignin Activated carbon Carbon fibers Carbon catalyst Carbon electrodes
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