Canadian Biomass Magazine

Mercer opens state-of-the-art lignin centre pilot plant in Germany

August 23, 2023
By Mercer International

Mercer International Inc is inaugurating the Mercer Lignin Center today. The state-of-the-art facility is located on Mercer Rosenthal’s site in Rosenthal am Rennsteig, Germany, and represents an important milestone in Mercer’s ongoing commitment to resource-saving innovation.

“Bioeconomy is a key success factor for the Thuringian economy. The Mercer Lignin Center shows that we are on a very good path here to strengthen the location and set an example beyond the region,” said Thuringia Prime Minister Bodo Ramelow at the opening ceremony. “This also applies to the cooperative approach with the research institutions and industrial partners, which I expressly welcome.”

“Our focus is on the full utilization of wood resources. It is therefore only logical to exploit the often untapped potential of lignin,” said Juan Carlos Bueno, CEO of Mercer International, on the background to the forward-looking investment.

The Mercer Lignin Center is a fully integrated pilot plant with a maximum capacity of 1,000 kilograms of high-quality lignin per day on an area of 1,000 square meters. It is the first facility of its kind in Germany and includes storage facilities, on-site control rooms, offices and laboratory workstations. Integration into the pulp mill ensures smooth operation and enables the production of different lignin grades.

Lignin is a by-product of the utilization of wood cellulose and consists of various aromatic building blocks, the phenylpropanoids. This is what makes the raw material so valuable, because aromatic compounds are normally obtained from petroleum. Phenylpropanoids are used to manufacture a wide variety of materials and products such as plastics, medicines or paints. Other promising applications include the production of batteries and composite materials.

With the opening of the Mercer Lignin Center and Mercer’s close cooperation with universities, research institutions and other industrial companies – from the wood-based materials industry to the battery industry – great potential is opening up for the integration of these lignin-based materials into the industrial bioeconomy, far beyond the borders of the Free State of Thuringia. In this way, Mercer actively supports the use of renewable resources in the economy as well as the desired independence away from fossil-based raw materials. The project is supported with funds from the Thüringer Aufbaubank.

“At Mercer, we support the idea of a sustainable circular economy and the responsible use of nature. Therefore, in order to optimize the use of the natural raw material components of our by-products, we are willing to overcome conventional ways of thinking and invest in new technologies,” said Juan Carlos Bueno. “The opening of the Lignin Center is another forward-looking contribution by Mercer to a strong bioindustry. We will continue on our path, investing in processes and technologies focused on continuous improvement and innovation in all areas of our business.”

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