Date of Award


Semester of Degree


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

M.S. in Paper and Bioprocess Engineering


Paper & Bioprocess Engineering

Major Professor

Biljana Bujanović

Steering Committee Member

Chang Geun Yoo

Steering Committee Member

Arthur Stipanovic

Steering Committee Member

Gyu Leem

Steering Committee Member

Jill Weiss


Utilization of lignin for higher-value applications, rather than for energy, is essential in making future lignocellulosic biorefineries economical. This research will focus on derivatization of biorefinery lignin for use in thermoplastic blends with biorenewable polylactic acid, PLA. Lignin was incorporated in PLA blends to improve PLA’s stability and functionality. Biorefinery lignin recovered from the hot-water extract of shrub willow was subjected to acetylation (C2) and acylation with lauroyl chloride, a fatty acid chloride (C12). The resulting lignin esters were synthesized to improve lignin’s compatibility with PLA. Hexane extraction was proposed to purify the lignin laurate. Lignin esters were characterized and blended with PLA (1- 12% w/w) via lab-scale melt extrusion. The physicochemical properties of lignin-PLA blends were evaluated. Lignin-PLA blends exhibited an increase in UV absorbance that may be leveraged in packaging to protect against decomposition of its contents and may also reduce photodegradation of PLA in numerous applications.