The global lignin products market size was valued at USD 864.67 million in 2021. It is projected to reach USD 1,179.48 million by 2030, growing at a CAGR of 3.51% during the forecast period (2022-2030). Lignin products are derived from complex, non-toxic, and biodegradable polymers found naturally in the cell walls of dry-land plants. They exhibit excellent binding properties, containing lignosulfonate that reduces sugar and sugar sulfonate. They are used in wallboard, leather and water treatment, lead-acid batteries, oil recovery, industrial cleaners, and oil well drilling muds. They also find usage as adhesives, resins, binders, dispersants, emulsifiers, wetting agents, agglomerates, and chelating agents in various end-user industries across the globe.
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Rising Demand for Animal Feed
Supplementing animal feed with lignin enhances the meal's physical properties and the animals' health. Animal feed pellets are produced from highly effective lignosulfonates of sodium and calcium. The dependence on commercially produced compound feed has increased as livestock production has become more intensive and nutrient requirements are becoming more widely known. The price of commercially produced and on-farm feeds has risen by 20–40% practically everywhere in the world due to increasing raw material costs. This element has compelled farmers to use different methods to secure feed. It costs less to buy lignin that has been removed from trash using other pulping procedures, such as kraft lignin. As a result, lignin is now being used more frequently as an addition in the production of compound feed products.
Increasing Use of Lignin in Dispersants
Dispersants made from sulfate pulping liquors and other lignin-containing materials have a variety of properties, including enhanced cost/performance, fiber resistance, stability at high temperatures, and heat resistance. Lignin works well as a dispersant in some applications, including soils. As a result, chemically altered lignin (lignosulfonate) is employed as dispersion and dispersing agent. Lignin dispersants are increasingly employed in dyes due to their heat stability, regulated fiber staining, azo reduction avoidance, lowered paste viscosity in the formulation, increased cost/performance following the standardization of dye strength, and ecological acceptability.
Increasing Gap Between R&D and Consumer Products
Pre-treatment and R&D costs for high-purity lignin are considerable. Most nations still use very little high-purity lignin, at least in volume. Also, there is constant research into creating novel items and bringing down the cost of existing ones. The use of lignin is still restricted despite being the second most plentiful substance after cellulose because of its higher price. Research initiatives are fewer since the R&D process is costly, which makes it challenging for manufacturers to create affordable items. The area of energy is also the subject of R&D. For the production of power and heat, lignin and other waste materials, including new proteins, unfermented sugars, and biomass components, are employed as rich fuel sources.
Growing Use of Concrete Additives
Lignin and its products find significant usage in concrete additives such as binders, dust suppressants, and others. They are used as binders for glass wool building insulation and improve the performance of asphalt binders. Lignin sulphonate has been historically used on roads for surface stabilization and dust control. Lignin-based products are safer and more economical than petroleum- and salt-based products typically applied to road surfaces. This is one of the major factors expected to boost the use of lignin-based products over the forecast period. Geographically, Europe leads the way in consuming lignin as a concrete additive. However, Asia-Pacific is expected to register the fastest CAGR over the forecast period. The significant infrastructure projects in Asia-Pacific are expected to boost the regional market.
The global lignin products market is segmented by source, product type, and application.
Based on the source, the global lignin products market is bifurcated into cellulosic ethanol, kraft pulping, and sulfite pulping.
The sulfite pulping segment is the highest contributor to the market and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 3.45% during the forecast period. The sulfite process turns wood chips into pulp, practically pure cellulose fiber, by removing the lignin. The Kraft process is a consistent procedure that can only be used with strongly alkaline cooking liquor, whereas the sulfite process is marked by its high flexibility. The full pH range can theoretically be employed for sulfite pulping by varying the chemical dosage and makeup. As a result, various pulp types and grades can be produced using sulfite pulping for multiple purposes. Sulfite pulps are often employed in producing paper rather than as a substitute market pulp grade for kraft pulps. For uses other than paper, sulfite pulp is still a valuable commodity as a source of cellulose.
The kraft process is also known as the kraft pulping and sulfate process. It is a technology for converting wood into wood pulp consisting of almost pure cellulose fibers. Wood chips are by harsh chemicals (white liquor) to manufacture pulp and spent liquor (black liquor). The spent liquor is later regenerated to white liquor in the causticizer. The process has been used in approximately 80% of paper production in the past few years. Manufacturing companies using the Kraft process are easy to recognize by their strong and offensive smell, as one of the by-products of the process is hydrogen sulfide gas and other sulfur gas compounds. Lignin removed via the kraft process is usually burnt for its fuel value as part of a concentrated black liquor stream, providing energy to run the mill and its associated processes.
Based on product type, the global lignin products market is bifurcated into cellulosic lignosulfonate, kraft lignin, high-purity lignin, and others.
The high-purity lignin segment owns the highest market share and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 3.50% during the forecast period. For storing solar energy, lignin is the most prevalent natural raw material; it makes up 30% of all non-fossil organic carbon. While specifically prepared lignin is helpful as an active ingredient with anti-oxidant, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral activities, high-purity support materials derived from lignin are also acceptable as support materials for food and cosmetic applications, comprising gels or emulsifiers. The SWEETWOODS wood valorization project, which the Bio-Based Industries Joint Undertaking supported, shipped out tonnes of industrially representative samples of high purity, nearly native lignin, and wood sugars. According to Graanul Biotech, novel lignin and sugars will be commercially available starting in the fourth quarter of 2022.
A growing variety of lignin is kraft lignin, which is created by heating kraft sulfate. Commercial kraft lignin is often offered as lignin amines or in its sulfonated form. These are primarily used in low-value applications, such as steam and energy creation. As a result, kraft lignin is being utilized more frequently as a fuel in recovery boilers to produce electricity. The demand for renewable carbon sources, the variety of commercial applications, and the low cost of raw materials are the primary reasons driving the market for kraft lignin. However, it is anticipated that the kraft lignin market would be constrained by issues including a lack of R&D to spur expansion and a lack of knowledge about its applications. The economic uses of kraft lignin are expanding due to its high carbon content. Fertilizers, insecticides, binders, and resins are a few of the many applications. Dispersants, enhanced carbon, and carbon fiber are some further emerging applications.
Based on application, the global lignin products market is bifurcated into concrete additives, animal feed, vanillin, dispersant, resins, activated carbon, carbon fibers, plastics/polymers, phenol and derivatives, and others (blends, sorbents, etc.).
The concrete additive segment is the highest contributor to the market and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 3.72% during the forecast period. Lignin and its derivatives are used as binders and dust suppressants in concrete additives. It serves as a binder for glass wool insulation used in construction and enhances asphalt binders' functionality. On roadways, lignin sulfonate has long been used as a solution for stabilizing the surface and reducing dust. Chemical producers can expect to expand their spending on the development of lignin that can be used as concrete admixtures due to the robust production bases of the chemical industry in the developing economies of Central America, South America, and Asia-Pacific. Manufacturers of lignin for use as a concrete additive include Nippon Paper Industries Co. Ltd, Borregaard LignoTech, and Domsjö Fabriker.
Plant cell walls contain cellulose, a crucial component that can be used to create ethanol and other goods. Plant walls also include cellulose, the primary ingredient in paper and a source of sugars for ethanol synthesis. Lignin is utilized as an ingredient in animal feed because it improves the feed's physical characteristics and the animals' health. Different forms of purified lignin, like Kraft and Alcell lignin, are produced by the various chemical treatments used in wood-pulping operations. Research using pure lignin has not gotten much attention, even though these phenolic fragments are anticipated to have significant applications in animal husbandry.
The global lignin products market is bifurcated into four regions, namely North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and LAMEA.
Europe Dominates the Global Market
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Europe is the most significant shareholder in the global lignin products market and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 3.23% during the forecast period. Europe's most significant building market is located in Germany. The country's construction industry has been expanding slowly, primarily due to an increase in the number of new residential construction projects. Additionally, animal feeds are essential in the process of producing food. Animal feed is produced in Germany by businesses including Deutsche Tiernahrung Cremer GmbH & Co. KG, Worlée, and Kiwa. The demand for lignin pellets used to make animal feed is anticipated to rise throughout the forecast period as the number of animal feed manufacturers in the nation rises. During the projection period, many MRO activities for airplanes and the production of specific components are anticipated to offer a potential market for carbon fiber.
Asia-Pacific is expected to grow at a CAGR of 4.13%, generating USD 332.56 million during the forecast period. According to the Civil Aviation Administration of China, more than 80% of all airport projects have restarted construction. Of the 65 airport projects nationwide, 27 are critical national airport projects. These initiatives are predicted to boost the market for lignin-derived products used in the building industry. Two policy modifications are responsible for this significant growth. First, China's central government has vigorously promoted fiscal stimulus in infrastructure spending to maintain economic growth in recent years. Second, local governments steadily loosened restrictions on credit availability, property requirements, and purchasing criteria, which helped the domestic real estate market.
The need for lignin in water treatment formulations to remove heavy metals like lead and cadmium is anticipated to increase due to China's strong chemical sector and strict wastewater treatment rules. India's expanding construction and animal feed sectors significantly contribute to the demand for lignin-based goods. The Indian government's numerous initiatives, like the Smart Cities project and Housing for all by 2022, are anticipated to give the construction industry a much-needed boost. Furthermore, it is expected that recent regulatory reforms, including the Real Estate Act, GST, and REITs, will shorten clearance delays and improve the building industry over the coming few years.
The United States is one of the major countries with strong economic growth in North America. It is home to several of the largest corporations in the world, including Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon, which have invested in building new offices and data centers. The need for lignosulfonate products for binders, dispersants, and additives in concrete is anticipated to increase as the construction sector expands in the United States. Furthermore, it is expected that the region's drilling activities will grow as oil prices continue to rise, enhancing demand for lignosulfonates in the oil and gas sector. It is anticipated that many industrial sectors in Canada will expand significantly, increasing water treatment operations. Along with the country's current wastewater treatment facilities, continuous improvements are being made, such as expanding Ontario's existing wastewater treatment facility and constructing new sewage treatment facilities in Quebec and British Columbia. The market for lignin in water treatment formulations to remove heavy metals, such as lead and cadmium, is anticipated to grow due to all these developments.
Major obstacles like a lack of public funding and corruption scandals have plagued Brazil's building industry. Government programs like "Minha Casa Minha Vida" and "Programa de Parcerias de Investimentos," however, have recently helped the sector to recover and resulted in significant construction activities in the nation, which has impacted the demand for lignin-based products from the construction industry. Meat is regarded as a requirement in Saudi Arabia. More than 80% of the chicken marketed locally is refrigerated, yet Saudi Arabian consumers prefer fresh chicken flesh. The market for lignin pellets for feed manufacturing will be driven in the upcoming years by the rising need for animal feed used in raising them. The market demand for lignin is anticipated to be caused by all of these growth indicators in the final consumers of lignin derivatives throughout the forecast period.