Source: Innovation Origins
Author: Brenda Arnold
Currently, over 100 million tons of lignin are produced around the world, a waste product with vast potential for many industries and yet, it is nowhere to be found in high-value applications. Lignopure is paving the way for tapping into this pot of gold. Co-founder, Joana Gil, shares details with Innovation Origins.
What is the basic concept behind Lignopure?
Lignin has great potential for a bio-based economy, but paradoxically, there have been next to no initiatives to create lignin with the quality required for end products from a consumer perspective. We aim to fill that gap by developing ways to convert lignin into a usable product. Companies are willing to use lignin but have a petroleum-based infrastructure. So, our bio-based products must both be usable by the current infrastructure and offer great performance.
Do you also provide the infrastructure for lignin?
This is the second component of what we offer: services. We license our technology to producers so they can produce at a large scale using our lignin-based know-how. It also makes more economical sense to produce locally than ship significant quantities.
How did the founders meet? Did you study together?
We met at university. I’m originally from Sinaloa, Mexico but have always wanted an international career so I moved to Germany to get my PhD in Thermal Process Engineering at the University of Hamburg. My research forms the basis for our work. Wienke Reynolds, a co–founder, also did a PhD in Engineering at the Hamburg University of Technology. She leads our technology strategy and services. Daniela Arango, another cofounder, from Colombia has an MBA and handles all regulatory aspects of our flagship product.
How did you come up with the idea for Lignopure?
The concept really came from the whole team. I brought in my experience working with the valorization of biomass from my previous work in the pharmaceutical industry in Mexico. I’ve always been fascinated by how you can convert waste into a valuable product.
I am very passionate about what we do. I feel strongly that somebody must take action. We have all this academic knowledge, which is great, but it must be applied!
What is currently your main target market?
Right now, we are concentrating on the cosmetics industry. We are developing products and just commissioned a production facility in January of this year. In the future, we’ll shift our attention to the food industry and later, to pharmaceutical applications.
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