Jane Wittrup Agger
Lignin, which is a part of the fibrous structure in wood, is a renewable resource that can potentially replace the use of oil and gas in a number of applications and materials, which we consider critical to modern society. Currently, lignin is not used because it is difficult to extract from wood in sufficient quality and form. Wood and plant biomass are already extensively used in many applications, but traditional industrial processing heavily degrades lignin. Consequently, 98% of the lignin that enters processing today is merely burned off. The purpose of LiFe is to discover new enzymes and non-catalytic proteins that will allow extraction of lignin in a high quality form. We will employ enzymes and other proteins, because they are specific and environmentally friendly catalysts. In the future, high quality lignin will make it feasible to develop highly advanced applications like next generation batteries, carbon fibers, bioplastics, building materials and more, based on plants and not on oil.