Project List Organic Solvent Pre-treatment for Pulping

Organic Solvent Pre-treatment for Pulping

Context
This is my current research project. Wood chips consist of three parts: cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin. These chips are turned into pulp (used to make paper) through a cooking process that breaks the bonds between the three parts. The cellulose and hemicellulose make up the pulp, while the lignin is removed and burned to power the process.

Problem
Removing the lignin from wood chips is a time- and energy-consuming part of the process. If we could somehow remove the lignin before we cook the chips, we’d have a more efficient cooking process.

Our Solution
The research group aims to find a solvent that we can wash the wood chips with prior to the cooking process to reduce the lignin content of the chips entering the cooking process. My job is to create a model that takes in the properties of a particular solvent and decides how energy-efficient and how effective the solvent is in reducing the lignin content of the chips.