Synthesizing lignin-based copolymers would valorize a major coproduct stream from pulp and paper mills and biorefineries as well as reduce the dependence on petrochemical-based consumer goods. In this study, we used organosolv lignin isolated from hybrid poplar (Populus trichocarpa × P. deltoides) to generate lignin-containing methacrylate hydrogels. The copolymer hydrogels were synthesized by first grafting 2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate (HEMA) onto lignin (OSLH) via esterification and then by free radical polymerization of OSLH with excess HEMA. The copolymer hydrogels were prepared with different stoichiometric ratios of OSLH (e.g., 0, 10, 20, and 40 wt %) with respect to HEMA. Copolymerization with OSLH led to an increase in cross-linking density, which in turn enhanced the hydrogel's material properties; we report up to 39% improvement in water retention, 20% increase in thermostability, and up to a 3 order increase in magnitude of the storage modulus (G′). The copolymer's properties, such as water retention and glass transition temperature, could be tuned by altering the percent functionalization of lignin OH groups and the ratio of OSLH to HEMA.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Polymers and Plastics
- Materials Chemistry