Isolation of value-added materials by a bark bio-refinery concept
For the production of pulp and paper debarked wood is used and the bark (ca. 10-15% of the stem) is produced as a side-product. Thus, tree bark is generated in significant quantities (approximately 1.5 million tons/year) and it is mainly used as fuel for combustion to produce energy for the mills. The bark is composed of interesting compounds that could be used in diverse, high-value applications and materials.
The focus of this research project is to disassemble the bark from Norway spruce trees into its individual components—cellulose, hemicelluloses, pectin, lignin and extractives—based on a “bio-refinery” concept by using economic but environmentally advantageous methods of extraction and isolation. The components are analyzed to get more detailed structural models which will inform the development of target applications for the spruce bark components, towards the realization of future integrated second-generation biorefineries from lignocellulosic feedstocks.