Integrated Forest Products Refinery (IFPR)
US chemical pulp mills receive more than 120 million dry tons of wood each year. We recognize wood as a high performance composite material engineered by nature. Therefore, it is most cost effective to use trees principally for structural and high-value consumer products, while the residual wood fiber and biomass (bark) are used for pulp. The tremendously underutilized lignin and hemicellulose, bi-products associated with pulp and paper manufacturing, as examples, are virtually untapped resources to be developed as feedstocks. These bioproduct “leftovers” will be utilized as valuable starting materials in synthetic polymer chemistry. The principal innovative component of the approach and commercial success are predicated on the ability to convert all fractions of the wood (cellulose, hemicellulose, lignin) along with chemical intermediates (e.g. pyrolysis oil, levulinic acid) into a diverse set of value-added polymers for use in high performance foams, coatings, and structural materials among others. The alternative feedstocks proposed provide more diversity in the monomer types than can be obtained from traditional sources and thus a larger range of material properties will be achievable.