USDA awards Attis $3 million grant for lignin technology

By Meridian Waste Solutions Inc. | January 12, 2018

Meridian Waste Solutions Inc., an integrated, non-hazardous solid waste services and innovative technology company, recently announced the award of a $3 million grant from the USDA to support the commercialization of patented and patent-pending lignin conversion and refining technologies owned by Meridian's subsidiary, Attis Innovations Inc. Attis Innovations is the combination of recent transactions with American Science and Technology Corp. and Advanced Lignin Biocomposites LLC.

Lignocellulose, or lignin, is ubiquitous in biomass, and yet it is highly-resistant to the chemical, biological, and other processes historically used for the conversion and refining of biomass into renewable products. This resistance has created significant challenges and opportunities for the more efficient use of cellulosic feedstocks in conventional production processes, such as biorefineries and paper mills that currently burn lignin for its fuel value of only about $50 per ton.

The U.S. Department of Energy's Bioenergy Technologies Office has consequently identified the need for technologies to be developed for the efficient use of lignin as a key target for accelerating the growth of the U.S. bioeconomy.

 

Development Consortium

To address this challenge, a team comprising Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the University of Tennessee's Center for Renewable Carbon, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, the Natural Resource Research Institute, Long Trail Sustainability, and Attis' research and development unit, American Science and Technology Corp., presented the USDA with a pathway based on Attis' technology to allow biorefineries to compete with petroleum.

That pathway relies on Attis' patented and patent-pending AST-Organosolv process to fractionate biomass into cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin, followed by the conversion of cellulose and hemicellulose into biofuel (butanol), and the conversion of lignin into acrylonitrile-butadiene-lignin (ABL resin) using technology developed and patented by Oak Ridge National Laboratory and licensed to Attis.

The resulting ABL resin product is proven to be a higher-performing renewable offset for the petroleum-derived resin acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS). With a market value of $1,500 to $2,400 per ton, abundant low-cost feedstock supplies, and robust multi-sector offset demand, Attis' new ABL Resin product has the potential to make a significant and valuable contribution to reducing U.S. dependence on petroleum-derived chemicals and fuels.

"The enormous potential of our biorefining technology demonstrates the need for the company to increase its focus on the more efficient use of the natural resources as an alternative to conventional waste management and other practices, such as disposal or co-generation," said Jeff Cosman, CEO of Meridian. "We believe we can build significant and enduring shareholder value by converting low value waste streams and other resources into far more valuable commercial products. We are enthused with the Attis technology portfolio in that regard, and are grateful and excited to have the support of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and a highly-accomplished team of experts working with us."