DOI: 10.1002/app.54648 ISSN:

Fractionated and purified hybrid poplar lignins as a polyol replacement in rigid polyurethane/polyisocyanurate foams

Christián Henry, Graham Tindall, Mark C. Thies, Mojgan Nejad
  • Materials Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • General Chemistry


This study introduces fractionated lignin as an innovative component in the formulation of rigid polyurethane/polyisocyanurate (PUR/PIR) foams. Low‐density PUR/PIR rigid foams were prepared by replacing 80% of the petrochemical‐based polyol with a hybrid poplar (HP) lignin, recovered via alkaline pretreatment, and also with a fraction of this lignin, isolated via the Aqueous Lignin Purification with Hot Agents (ALPHA) process. The as‐recovered HP and ALPHA‐fractionated HP lignins were characterized to determine hydroxyl content, molecular weight (Mw) distribution, and pH. Both lignin‐based foams met minimum standard requirements in terms of closed cell content, compression strength, and thermal conductivity. Notably, the foams made with ALPHA‐based lignin outperformed the as‐recovered lignin‐based foams in all measured foam properties. Moreover, the ALPHA‐based foam had comparable performance to the control foam (without lignin) except for density and even surpassed the control foam in closed cell content and compressive strength. This investigation of the molecular properties of lignin suggests that significant reductions in lignin average molecular weight and polydispersity (PDI) can positively impact the properties of lignin‐based rigid foams.

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