North Dakota Patent of the Month – January 2021
Even with the advancements of digital technology, we still use paper, especially if you’re a writer, student, or a notebook enthusiast. And while many people are aware of their paper use and try to reduce, reuse, and recycle as much as they can, many people are not aware of the waste created from paper mills, such as by-products lignin. It is considered a waste product and doesn’t have much use other than being burned for fuel. However, with growing environmental concern, the NDSU Research Foundation in North Dakota turned to green chemistry and have developed an innovative way to expand lignin’s uses.
The NDSU Research Foundation has made resin from lignin that can be developed into thermoplastic and thermosetting polymers; which are used to make electrical outlet coverings and PVC material among others. Lignin is the most abundant biopolymer in nature and is a key component in dry land plants. It’s a by-product of paper-pulping, so it’s not hard to find or source, making it a low-cost resource. The NDSU’s resins can be taken directly from the lignin from paper pulping, or they can be made by degrading or depolymerizing the lignin. The resin can be used for different polymers since the lignin contains both aliphatic and aromatic hydroxyl groups, making it very hydroxyl functional for different resin mixtures. The final resin is also easy to handle since it is a low-viscosity liquid. With NDSU’s innovative use of lignin, it’s no longer just a wasteful by-product, it now has endless possibilities.
Are you developing a new process? Did you know your development work could be eligible for the R&D Tax Credit and you can receive up to 14% back on your expenses? Even if your development isn’t successful your work may still qualify for R&D credits (i.e. you don’t need to have a patent to qualify). To find out more, please contact a Swanson Reed R&D Specialist today or check out our free online eligibility test.
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