2017 Kraft Lignin Forum

Verso Quinnesec Mill, Iron Mountain, MI

October 11 and 12, 2017



Full Proceedings (available soon!)


The forum on lignin brought together experts from academia, industry, and government to share knowledge and identify technical and economic opportunities and challenges for the pulp and paper industry with regard to the utilization of the lignin byproduct from the Kraft process.  The forum concluded with several action items that participants could work on together to accelerate the advancing forest bioeconomy in Michigan.


We would like to thank Steve Brooks, director of corporate energy at the Verso Corporation for providing the facility and lunch for this event. We would also like to thank Julie Manley at Guiding Green for her help in organizing this event.

Actionable Items

1. Isolate pure lignin from the black liquor and measure its physical, chemical and thermal properties.

Verso will send black liquor samples to MSU, who will isolate out the lignin using standard TAPPI procedure and conduct comprehensive analyses of the obtained lignin samples using analytical techniques, such as HPLC, GPC, DSC, TGA, FTIR and NMR. MTU can provide thermal analyses (TGA and DSC) of the samples isolated at MSU, if needed.

2. Based on characterization results predict products or applications best suited for the pure hardwood lignin produced by the Quinnesec Mill.  This is a unique feedstock that could provide competitive advantage over mixed or just softwood lignin.

Quinnesec mill uses only hardwood species (primarily maple). Due to the low reactivity of hardwood lignin toward formaldehyde, it might be used for other applications, such as polyurethane resin for foam, coating and adhesives or as filler in biocomposites. Results from chemical characterization will provide more information about the potential applications of the lignin. MSU and MTU should provide recommendations for potential applications of the lignin based on the shared analysis results.

3. Perform a technical and economic feasibility analysis on the separation process.

Based on the recommended potential applications of Verso lignin, MTU can perform the technical and economic feasibility analysis for each application identified by Verso. The analyses will be incorporated into MTU students’ curriculum activities (e.g. capstone projects or Enterprise) in the Department of Chemical Engineering. Donna mentioned a potential funding source to support this activity, and she will follow up then it is announced later this year.