Technological watch

Helping Agriculture to Reach its Circular Bioeconomy Goals

By Dr. Priyom Bose, Ph.D.Mar 9 2022Reviewed by Megan Craig, M.Sc.Scientists have recently published a review in the Journal of Cleaner Production, on the applications of lignin nanoparticles in the agriculture sector. This review assesses the potential use of lignin biopolymers for the development of nanoparticles for agricultural applications and environmental decontamination.

Study: Lignin nanoparticles: New insights for a sustainable agriculture. Image Credit: Rattiya Thongdumhyu/

A circular economy focuses on minimizing the negative impact of waste materials on the environment, society, and economy. It aims to reduce the generation of waste materials as well as develop proper guidance for its sustainable production.

Researchers have pointed out that lignin is the second most abundantly found natural aromatic biopolymer, and its main function is conferring stiffness and mechanical support to a plant. It also protects against harmful pests and pathogens and participates in the transportation of water and nutrients in plants systems.

Synthesis of Lignin NanoparticlesRecent research has shown that valorization streams for lignin are strongly connected to its distinctive characteristics. For instance, the unique chemical structure of lignin is used in the production of aromatic chemicals. Additionally, it contains polyphenolic rings and a phenylpropane skeleton with hydrophobic functional groups that are associated with its multifunctional trait.

Lignin is obtained as a low-priced byproduct from the biofuel, paper, and cellulose industries. It is also generated from industrialized forestry activities and agricultural practices. Although the annual production of lignin is around $913 million, only a part of it is used in biorefineries. Hence, there is a need to explore more value-added uses of lignin and move the bioeconomy forward.

Scientists have revealed that the development of novel manufacturing routes for lignin nanomaterials promotes a circular economy.

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Publication date: 09/03/2022


This project has been co-funded with the support of the LIFE financial instrument of the European Union [LIFE17 ENV/ES/000438] Life programme

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Last update: 2022-01-31