The aim of the project is to improve the efficiency of lignocellulosic biomass processing to products such as pulp and paper, biofuels and platform chemichals for the chemical industry. The research will focus on lignin, an aromatic cell wall polymer. By reducing lignin content or altering its composition, lignocellulosic biomass can be obtained that is more suitable to biomass processing.
In part one of this project, alternative lignin monomers will be incorporated into the lignin polymer. We will focus on ferulic acid. Incorporation of ferulic acid into the lignin polymer results in acetal bonds that are easier to cleave during acid biomass pretreatments.
In the second part, we will reduce lignin content in fibers of poplar wood, but not in vessels. We hope to obtain poplars with reduced lignin content but without adverse effects on growth of the plant.