Sustainable and cost-efficient lignin-based concrete plasticizer


VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has developed a technique that can be used to convert lignin – a by-product of pulp mills and biorefineries – into a concrete plasticiser that is competitive against the synthetic and lignosulphonate-based admixtures currently on the market. In its water-soluble form, lignin can also be used as an additive in paints, printing inks, coatings and manufacture of gypsum products.

The workability of fresh concrete and the strength of the final product are important to builders. In fresh concrete, the lignin solution produced using VTT's LigniOx technique works noticeably better than commercial lignosulphonate-based plasticiser and even provides a promising alternative to synthetic superplasticisers. The LigniOx solution enables use of only a small amount of water, producing a highly workable paste that hardens into a strong final product.

VTT's LigniOx technology converts lignin water-soluble by means of oxygen oxidation. The technique can be used to process different kinds of lignins; only the process conditions must be tailored for each lignin type used. VTT's further development projects are focused on making the LigniOx solution competitive against synthetic products and exploring its commercial potential also in other application areas.

Although plasticisers account for less than one per cent of concrete paste, their global market is huge, approximately 17 million tonnes per year. Demand is also expected to increase in developing countries such as China, India, and Brazil. Plasticisers are currently produced from oil-based chemicals and lignosulphonates. Also lignosulphonates originate from the side-streams of pulping industry, but sulphite pulping and thus lignosulphonate production is declining.

Lignin webinar on 5 April

Lignin – a substance that binds wood fibres – is a major by-product of the pulping industry and biorefineries, and is typically used as an energy source in the production site. VTT is seeking more valuable uses for this industrial by-product. We will be hosting a webinar on the subject, called Value from lignin, on 5 April. You are welcome to attend! Registrations:

VTT's Senior Scientist Anna Kalliola's doctoral thesis on the use of oxidation to modify technical lignins was published in August 2015:

The lignin plasticiser was developed in a Tekes-funded ProLignin project and as part of the European WoodWisdom-EraNet programme.


For more information, please contact:

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd
Anna Kalliola, Senior Scientist
tel. +358 40 588 5748, [email protected]

Tiina Liitiä, Team Leader
tel. +358 40 755 2387, [email protected]

Further information on VTT:

Olli Ernvall
Senior Vice President, Communications
358 20 722 6747
[email protected]

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd is the leading research and technology company in the Nordic countries. We use our research and knowledge to provide expert services for our domestic and international customers and partners, and for both private and public sectors. We use 4,000,000 hours of brainpower a year to develop new technological solutions. VTT in social media: Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter @VTTFinland.

Media Contact

Anna Kalliola
[email protected]

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