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2015 Thèses des Bois: a PhD student from LGP2 receives a prize

Published on September 28, 2015
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July 3, 2015

The Bordeaux - Solvay University Fondations "Promotion of maritime pine chemistry" prize was awarded to Claire Monot, a third-year PhD student at the Laboratory of Pulp and Paper Science and Graphic Arts (LGP2).

Taking advantage of the resources of France's forestry, wood and paper sector, the Xylofutur competitive cluster is geared primarily towards launching innovative value-added projects and industrial activities for the benefit of all the sector's stakeholders. One of the highlights of the General Meeting of 3 July was the ceremony to celebrate the three 2015 Thèses des Bois award winners.
Created in 2012, the "Promotion of maritime pine chemistry" prize rewards those who perform research in the field of wood chemistry. Each year, a number of doctoral students present their work to a population of professionals, academics and students. An international jury then meets to select the winners.

[legende-image]1383921709888[/legende-image] This year, Claire Monot received this distinction for her work on "Paper biorefinery: development of sulphur-free cooking for the recovery of black liquor through gasification". A graduate engineer of the ENSTIB with a keen interest in natural materials, chemistry and biopolymers, Claire conducts her research under the supervision of Christine Chirat – teacher researcher at Grenoble INP-Pagora and head of the Biorefinery: chemistry and eco-processes team – and is set to defend her thesis at the end of 2015.

A co-product generated when wood is cooked to produce paper pulp (cellulose), black liquor is burned in the paper industry to regenerate cooking reagents – reusing the latter reduces production costs – and to produce energy, which is used to run the plant. Today, kraft cooking, the most common method, uses sulphur, which remains in the black liquor, preventing the latter from being gasified. But gasification has two key advantages:
  • It creates optimal pressure and temperature conditions for more efficient energy input.
  • The lignin monomers can be recovered, chemically processed and reused.
The aim of Claire Monot's work – which is funded by the Institut Carnot Énergies du Futur, as part of the ENERLIG project conducted in partnership with the CEA – is therefore to develop sulphur-free cooking for paper biorefinery purposes. First, hemicellulose was extracted from the wood through autohydrolysis, for use in other applications. Wood chips are easier to delignify once a proportion of their hemicellulose has been removed, opening up the possibility of sulphur-free cooking. The sulphur-free black liquor was then gasified by the CEA within the scope of another thesis funded by the ENERLIG project.

The second objective of Claire Monot's thesis is to explain why wood that has been subjected to autohydrolysis is easier to cook and whiten. This research, which has been conducted in partnership with the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm (Sweden), shows that lignin-carbohydrate bonds ? in particular, the lignin-hemicellulose bonds found in wood ? are reduced in number by autohydrolysis, thus facilitating lignin extraction during cooking and whitening.

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Date of update September 28, 2015

Université Grenoble Alpes