Lignin: Technology, Applications, and Markets

Lignin could become a new profit center for the forest products industry – and perhaps for your business.


This study provides a primer and forecast for a material that has many current applications, and the potential for more.

Lignin: Technology, Applications, and Markets provides insight on:

  • The biology and chemistry of lignin
  • Processes used to extract and refine lignin
  • Applications for lignin, with details about costs
  • Current market conditions for lignin producers and buyers
  • More than 40 detailed profiles of key players in the industry
  • A 10-year forecast of potential new markets for lignin worldwide, including the opportunities and challenges for new and expanded applications for lignin

As demand for many forest products slows, pulp and paper producers are seeking new applications for materials derived from trees. One such material is lignin, which is the “glue” that holds the cellulose in plant tissues together. Extracted lignin is a byproduct of the pulping process that is typically burned by mills that produce it – but it’s capable of much more.

Lignin can be used in a variety of materials, from concrete to carbon fiber, and it could replace petroleum-based chemicals in thousands of other products. While many of these uses aren’t yet commercially viable, major research and development efforts worldwide are striving to unlock lignin’s potential.

Lignin applications range from additives to cement and asphalt, at the low end of the value scale, to fine chemicals such as vanillin and phenol derivatives at the high end of the range.

Watch a webinar from study author Jack Miller here.

The methodology for Lignin: Technology, Applications, and Markets provides unmatched insight into these applications. The study is built on extensive primary and secondary research, including more than 25 interviews with industry experts. Secondary research included an extensive review of over 100 references, including technical journals, conference presentations, and company publications. The authors also searched and studied more than 300 patents and patent applications.

Table of Contents

I. Acknowledgements

II. Introduction, Methodology, and Scope

III. Executive Summary

IV. Introduction to Lignin

  • What is lignin?
  • Types of lignin
  • Lignosulfonate
  • Kraft lignin
  • Biorefinery lignin

V. Lignin Processes

  • Lignosulfonate
  • Kraft lignin
    • LignoBoost
    • LignoForce
    • SLRP
  • Sulfonated kraft lignin
  • Soda lignin
  • Biorefinery lignin
    • Organosolv
    • Organic solvent: Other
    • Autohydrolysis, steam explosion
    • Enzymatic hydrolysis

VI. State of the Industry

  • Lignin prices
  • Lignosulfonate
  • Kraft lignin
  • Soda lignin
  • Biorefinery lignin

VII. Markets and Applications (with profiles of key players)

  • Vanillin
  • Phenol and phenol derivatives
  • Carbon fiber
  • Activated carbon
  • Benzene, Toluene, Xylene (BTX)
  • Bitumen and asphalt
  • Cement and concrete additives
  • Misc. dispersants and binders
  • All other

VIII. The Road Ahead

  • Forecast 2025
  • Key challenges
  • The road to commercialization

IX. Issues and Implications for Processors and Users of Lignin

X. Profiles of Key Players

XI. References

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