Lignin Based Carbon Fibres



Lignin is one of the most abundant components of lignocellulosic biomass, with hemicellulose and cellulose. However, much of its use has been restricted to low value applications such as fuel. More recently a cascading approach has been used to valorise lignin in products such as acetic acid, methanol, and phenolic compounds. Lignin additives have displayed flame retardancy characteristics and provide antioxidant protection to other polymers. However, its use as a carbon fibre precursor is the holy grail of lignin valorisation. Carbon fibres are becoming more widespread in structural applications due to their high stiffness and tensile strength, low thermal expansion and density, heat tolerance and chemical resistance.  Currently, the vast majority of the carbon fibre precursors are petroleum based with associated environmental impact and CO2 emissions. Here we consider a low cost lignin production route as an alternative precursor for carbon fibre. However, after extrusion the lignins are brittle and difficult to handle, rendering subsequent processing such as spinning or winding impossible. We offer polymer blending as a solution to this problem, the incorporation of a second polymer can act as a plasticiser reducing stiffness whilst enabling subsequent processing. Here we focus on the preparation of lignin carbon fibres precursors using a bio based thermoplastic elastomer polyurethane (PU).



Mario Culebras obtained a Degree in chemistry from the  University of Valencia in 2011 followed by a Masters in science and technology in colloids and interfaces. He finished his PhD studies in 2017 in the area of polymer and nanocomposites for thermoelectric applications in the University of Valencia. Currently, he is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Limerick working on the LIBRE project. He has published around 30 papers in scientific journals, 2 patents and has given more than 10 oral presentations at international conferences.