Lignin-Based Thermosets (RFT-542)

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Invention Summary

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NDSU Researchers have developed a process to modify lignin, so as to produce acetoacetylated (AA-lignin) and methacrylated (MA-lignin) derivatives that are well suited for production of thermosets. This technology enables modification of full sized lignin molecules, and depolymerized lignin subunits, by attaching reactive groups to some or all of the hydroxy groups. The derivatized lignin has lower viscosity than (for example) kraft lignin. This makes it easy to handle and to control crosslinking reactions and can be readily crosslinked to form thermosets through several different mechanisms, including reaction with amines, polyisocyanates, or melamine-formaldehyde resins.


  • Potential alternative source of phenolic and phenol-formaldehyde resins used in plywood, OSB, paper-based laminates, and other composites
  • Enables multiple and flexible value-added uses of native and modified lignin
  • Lignin functionalization to produce AA- or MA-lignin may be performed in polyol solvents, eliminating the need for volatile solvents, or resulting problems associated with VOCs
  • Production of AA-Lignin and MA-Lignin modifies the polyol solvent in the same way, and the polyol can be retained and integrates into the thermoset. This reduces cost, increases efficiency, and reduces waste.
  • Broad range of potential applications wherever thermosets are used, including coatings, composites, and adhesives


The technology includes acetoacetylated and methacrylated functionalized lignin resin compositions in addition to methods of making and curing the compositions.


This technology is the subject of U.S. patent no. 10,851,244 and is available for licensing/partnering opportunities.


Saurabhi Satam, Business Development and Licensing Associate


RFT, 542, RFT542

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