Forestry and Forest Products Research Centre

Research into Biorefining

Biorefineries are similar to conventional petroleum refineries in that they produce a range of products to optimize both the use of the feedstock and production economics. Integrated biorefineries use novel technologies and diverse biomass feedstocks—requiring significant investments in research, development, and deployment to reduce costs and improve performance to achieve competitiveness with fossil fuels. Our research activities in this are include valorisation of lignin, production of biodiesel and bio-oils, extraction of high value chemicals, and valorisation of mill sludge. Current topics include:

  • Precipitation of lignin from black liquors
  • Heterogeneous catalysis for production of biodiesel
  • Upgrading of bio-oils
  • System closure
  • Ionic liquids
  • Cellulose chemistry

Current Post-Graduate Projects In Biorefinery

  • Precipitation and valorisation of lignin in South African Kraft mill process liquors
  • Processing of dissolving pulp cellulose in ionic liquids
  • Catalytic valorization of biomass to chemical products
  • Ultrafiltration and valorization of lignin in black liquor from South African Kraft mills: A case study of activated carbon generation and its application
  • Heterogeneous acid catalysed biodiesel production from tall oil: A low grade and less expensive feedstock
  • Application of membrane filtration to the closure of white water systems in newsprint mills.
  • Production of nanocrystalline cellulose from South African biomass