Techno-Economic Assessment, Scalability, and Applications of Aerosol Lignin Micro- and Nanoparticles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Research units

  • North Carolina State University


Lignin micro- and nanoparticles (LMNPs) synthesized from side-streams of pulp and paper and biorefinery operations have been proposed for the generation of new, high-value materials. As sustainable alternatives to particles of synthetic or mineral origins, LMNPs viability depends on scale-up, manufacturing cost, and applications. By using experimental data as primary source of information, along with industrial know-how, we analyze dry and spherical LMNPs obtained by our recently reported aerosol/atomization method. First, a preliminary evaluation toward the commercial production of LMNPs from industrial lignin precursors is presented. Following, we introduce potential LMNPs applications from a financial perspective. Mass and energy balances, operating costs, and capital investment are estimated and discussed in view of LMNPs scalability prospects. The main potential market segments identified (from a financial perspective) include composite nanofillers, solid foams, emulsion stabilizers, chelating agents, and UV protection. Our technical, financial, and market assessment represent the basis for R&D planning and efforts to lower the risk related to expected industrialization efforts. Manufacturing costs were estimated between 870 and 1170 USD/t; also, minimum selling prices varied from 1240 and 1560 USD/t, depending on raw materials used. Sensitivity analysis indicated that manufacturing cost can be as low as 600 USD/t, depending on the process conditions considered. Finally, based on the financial assessment, potential applications were identified.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11853-11868
Number of pages16
JournalACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 4 Sep 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

    Research areas

  • Biorefinery, Lignin, Mass and energy balance, Microparticles, Nanoparticles, Organic colloids, Techno-economic analysis

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