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METNIN™ enzymatic lignin refining technology

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27 December 2022

Oil plays a major role in the modern society. It is estimated that the world consumes more than 88 million barrels of oil per day. Fuel is probably its most well-known use, but many everyday products or chemical used in industrial production are based on petroleum products that are co-produced from crude oil – in addition to gasoline or jet fuel, from one barrel of crude oil 540 toothbrushes or 23 hula-hoops can be produced. Sustainably sourced renewable materials that can replace carbon-intensive fossil-based resources offer a crucial opportunity to help reach Europe’s climate ambitions of climate neutrality by 2050. Valorization of lignin gives an alternative to petrochemical-based phenolic materials.  In EnXylaScope, lignin-based phenolics are utilized in the xylan-based products aimed for three market sectors: cosmetics, personal care, nutraceuticals.

MetGen has developed a breakthrough lignin valorization technology, METNIN™, which allows to produce lignin-based products from crude lignin for high value applications replacing oil-based alternatives, in an economically sound way, with extremely high purity, and in an industrial scale. In EnXylaScope, phenolic compounds are grafted to xylan.  Grafting of phenolic groups on to xylan will be targeted for mono-substitution and di-substitution on water insoluble xylan and substitution on xylan and side chains on unmodified xylan. The phenolic groups tested for this will be ferulic acid, coumaric acid, caffeic acid and gallic acid. Additional source for phenolic compounds will be METNIN™ phenolics offered by MetGen

Key features of METNIN™

  • The novel enzymatic lignin refining technology enables producing tailored and highly functional lignin material for different application areas. In addition to phenolics for chemistry, the applications include resins and binders; foams and composites as well as additives and coatings.
  • METNIN™ technology is lignin agnostic and can refine the abundant sources of raw material in customer-specific chemistries serving the needs of chemical and material companies currently dependent on oil-based chemistry.
  • METNIN™ breaks down any type of lignin gently and affordably into specific fractions. The fractions can be further tailored to end-user needs and have the chemical characteristics required for the final applications.
  • METNIN™ products include intermediate lignin fractions for endless uses for aromatics as well as ready-to-use formulations for industrial materials and chemicals.
  • METNIN™ process does not use toxic chemicals, solvents or metal catalysts. The fractioning process is based on lignin oxidation with enzymes and subsequent physicochemical modifications and mature multiple filtrations and purification processes.

METNIN™ technology increases efficiency in biorefining processes by reducing waste and increasing the value of side streams while increasing the productivity of the legacy core operations. In fact, the ability to valorize also lignin is a critical technology to make cellulosic ethanol production economically viable (without subsidies).

Dr. Petri Ihalainen -

Dr. Liji Shobhana Seleenmary Sobhanadhas -