Sustainable Stand, No Longer a Tall Order

Sustainable Stand, No Longer a Tall Order

Department of Wood Science | Faculty of Forestry
Share Story Related Content Add to my report

Lignin is the complex biopolymer ‘tendon and bone’ that lets plants, grasses and other ‘woody’ flora stand tall.

But for pulp, paper and biofuel industries, lignin is a problem; the fibrous, water-insoluble waste impediment must be removed with costly chemicals and mechanical forces.

Lignin makes up about 20 to 25 percent of a tree. One ‘solution’ is to genetically reduce the percentages in the tree species best suited for pulping, but there’s the tradeoff: stunted growth and susceptibility to pathogens, pests and weather.

Researchers have developed a better way: soluble ester bonds fitted into the lignin molecule that don’t affect the tree’s growth or strength, but make for easier rendering and processing. Fragmented, the lignin byproduct is easier to recover for use in adhesives, insolation, carbon fibres and paint additives.

This technique could extend to other plants such as grasses and ‘commercially valueless ‘weed’ trees like poplar, creating new sources of bio-fuels and tapping into what Shawn Mansfield, UBC professor of Wood Science, calls the “enormous potential” of managed harvests versus unsustainable oil fields:

“We’re a petroleum reliant society. We rely on the same resource for everything from smartphones to gasoline. We need to diversify and take the pressure off of fossil fuels.”

Read more about

Research Excellence

Related Content

“We're a petroleum reliant society. We rely on the same resource for everything from smartphones to gasoline. We need to diversify and take the pressure off of fossil fuels.” - Shawn Mansfield

Campus

Vancouver
Researchers have genetically engineered trees that will be easier to break down to produce paper and biofuel. Photo Credit: Martin Dee

Twitter

Get together with your UBC community members and celebrate local food and Vancouver talent at FarmAde this Friday.… https://t.co/Jt16qQl7Qx
about 18 hours ago.
Dean John Innes on how climate change is causing conditions to become drier and warmer in Squamish and across B.C.… https://t.co/1fnuN3brny
1 day ago.
Great turnout at the opening of the International Union of Forest Research Organizations @iufro_2017 125th Annivers… https://t.co/U9izeuPald
2 days ago.
The FUS team is kicking off Forestry Week with events every day this week. Check out their FB page for details:… https://t.co/TYopZB7cAA
2 days ago.
Forestry professor David Andison makes the case for letting burnt forests regrow instead of logging them. https://t.co/LS0Ff9Hrra #BCfires
2 days ago.
Fall into Co-op this September - the latest TreeRings Newsletter 🌲 is out! Presentation Night & more important date… https://t.co/k8V2e3eljs
5 days ago.
Be part of an upcoming UBC exhibit this fall by taking photos. See below for more details - Submission deadline Sep… https://t.co/NIiqXZjpgH
5 days ago.
Listen to Forestry professor Lori Daniels on CBC Radio discuss wildfire prevention. https://t.co/74yo4jULqV
5 days ago.
Next week is Science Literacy Week. Take part in this national initiative by attending one of the many free UBC eve… https://t.co/eUMiS5hxkc
6 days ago.
Congratulations on the great year @ChopValue, creating so many innovative products with recycled chopsticks.… https://t.co/VHpzyN6uFD
6 days ago.

Comments are closed, but trackbacks and pingbacks are open.