When nature designed lignin — the fibrous, woody material that gives plants their rigid structure — it didn’t cut any corners.
When nature designed lignin — the fibrous, woody material that gives plants their rigid structure — it didn’t cut any corners. Incredibly slow to break down, lignin is so sturdy and long lasting that it is resistant to bacteria and rot.
So, what happens to all the lignin waste from farmlands, breweries and paper mills? Most of it is burned or buried, generating pollution and wasting a potential renewable resource.
Now, Northwestern University researchers have developed a sustainable, inexpensive two-step process that can upcycle organic carbon waste — including lignin. By processing waste through a microbe-driven biorefinery, the researchers turned lignin into carbon sources that could be used in high-value, plant-derived pharmaceuticals and antioxidant nutraceuticals as well as carbon-based nanoparticles for drug or chemical delivery.
Read more at: Northwestern University
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