Biobased resins from aldehydes and lignin


The current industrial production of a wide range of chemicals and synthetic polymers relies on fossil resources. Consumers and brand owners drive the search for biobased materials and products that are more sustainable. Companies search for performant materials containing biosourced carbon. Phenol, a fossil-derived chemical building block, is used downstream in various chemical formulations and applications, such as phenolic resins. Phenolic resins are successfully used in a variety of industrial applications, among others automotive, coating, varnish, adhesives, construction and insulation foams. For all these applications, there is a continued drive to find novel sustainable alternatives to these basic building blocks. In view of its chemical resemblance and availability, lignin and its derivatives could be a viable alternative to partially substitute phenol in phenol-formaldehyde resins.


The BIORESAL project aims to research to produce biobased LPF resins by replacing phenol with (modified) oligomeric lignin fractions, as potentially less hazardous and sustainable building blocks for their application in insulation materials and moulding compounds. Most importantly, this replacement is needed in a technologically proven and economically viable way. Additionally, BIORESAL will include the evaluation of a series of aldehydes as co-reactant in the synthesis of biobased LPF resins.


Biobased Resins Using Lignin and Glyoxal

I. Van Nieuwenhove, T. Renders, J. Lauwaert, T. De Roo, J. De Clercq, and A. Verberckmoes
ACS Sustainable Chem. Eng. 2020, 8, 51, 18789–18809 – DOI: 10.1021/acssuschemeng.0c07227

The utilization of lignin and glyoxal as potentially sustainable and less hazardous building blocks for phenolic resins is an emerging research field. Lignin thereby serves as a partial, macromolecular substitute for phenol, while glyoxal fulfills the role of an aldehyde cross-linker. In the first part of this perspective, the industrial context of lignin and glyoxal will be expounded with a focus on their origin and production processes. In the framework of phenolic resins, the use of lignin and glyoxal can be categorized into two research domains: (i) glyoxalation to improve the reactivity of lignin prior to resin synthesis and (ii) direct resin synthesis using lignin and glyoxal with glyoxal immediately serving as the cross-linker. This perspective provides a comprehensive overview of the progress made in both domains, pinpointing the opportunities, blind spots, and challenges that lay ahead.

The full publication can be accessed via:

Project details

Project type
Innovation Programme
Biobased Value Chains
Project status
Approved on
Project date
€2 596 723
€1 807 567