What Is Lignin?


3 Answers

Mary Ann Cassidy Profile
Lignin is an amorphous polymeric substance related to cellulose that together with cellulose forms the woody cell walls of plants and the cementing material between them.
Jennifer Bone Profile
Jennifer Bone answered
Lignin is a complex organic polymer that is found in the tissues of plants.  More specifically, lignin is found in the cell walls of plants where it binds with cellulose creating strong, sturdy cell walls.  The amount of lignin a plant has determines how woody it is.

Lignin has a number of industrial applications that make it quite highly sought after as well as playing an important role in plant biology.  When plants are processed for industrial purposes, lignin can be extracted for further use.  Plants with high amounts of lignin are woody because lignin provides the form and shape of twigs, stalks, and tree trunks.  Lignin was named after the Latin lignum, which means wood, in 1819.

Lignin is important for providing support and structure for a plant.  It also helps to conduct water and can isolate carbon in the plant.  When a plant dies, the lignin breaks down more slowly than the rest of the plant so it slowly releases carbon back into the natural environment.

Wood with a lot of lignin has long been of use to humans.  Wood that is sturdy and strong is more versatile and can be used for a wide variety of tasks and products.  High lignin concentrations are an indicator of a wood that will burn well.  Lignin burns efficiently, which means that oak – a heavily lignified wood – is excellent for burning as fuel. 

When lignin is extracted from plant products and timber it can be used in a wide range of products.  As a result, many paper mills and lumber processing yards consider lignin a profitable byproduct and will sell extracted lignin to other industries for a good profit. Lignin that is extracted from timber, usually in paper mills, is retrieved during the process of shredding, pulping, and treating that produces paper.

Depending how it is processed and what it is mixed with, lignin can be used as a binding, sequestering, emulsifying, or dispersal agent.  Lignin is, therefore, widely present in everything from paints to the surface of streets to flavourings to textile dyes.

Lignin is present in many industrial materials and is in people’s daily surrounds in the form of furniture and construction materials.  Most humans and many animals will also consume lignin every day because it is present in the cell walls of fruits and vegetables.

Charming Gurl Profile
Charming Gurl answered
A complex polymer, the chief noncarbohydrate constituent of wood, that binds to cellulose fibers and hardens and strengthens the cell.

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