High-performance lignopolymer surfactants

Period of Performance: 06/12/2015 - 12/31/2015


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

6743 WILKINS AVE Array
Pittsburgh, PA 15217
Firm POC, Principal Investigator


Salix Lignopolymers is commercializing a formulation of polymer-grafted kraft lignin that utilizes controlled polymerization chemistry to produce a hybrid nanoparticle having a lignin core and a polymer corona. When grafted with water-soluble polymers, experiments in surfactant applications have shown materials made of 60% lignin are highly surface active. In contrast, traditional polymer grafting chemistries with lignin result in crosslinked aggregates that have modest surfactant effects. The goals of this research are (1) to identify industrial-scale sources of lignin that are suitable for use in this technology and (2) to optimize the grafting chemistry to allow for robust preparation of the nanoparticle architecture. Formulations will be tested in two areas, emulsifiers and dispersants, which will be optimized to maximize both surfactant properties and the fraction of lignin used. Emulsifiers are used to compatibilize liquids in a broad range of applications. Dispersants are used to stabilize particle suspensions, and the lead application in this area will be in plasticizing hydraulic cement. Pilot-scale production will be performed to validate manufacturing processes.