Progress in green polymer composites from lignin for multifunctional applications: A review

Vijay Kumar Thakur*, Manju Kumari Thakur, Prasanth Raghavan, Michael R. Kessler

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1121 Citations (Scopus)


Rising environmental concerns and depletion of petro-chemical resources has resulted in an increased interest in biorenewable polymer-based environmentally friendly materials. Among biorenewable polymers, lignin is the second most abundant and fascinating natural polymer next to cellulose. Lignin is one of the three major components found in the cell walls of natural lignocellulosic materials. Lignin is widely available as a major byproduct of a number of industries involved in retrieving the polysaccharide components of plants for industrial applications, such as in paper making, ethanol production from biomass, etc. The impressive properties of lignin, such as its high abundance, low weight, environmentally friendliness and its antioxidant, antimicrobial, and biodegradable nature, along with its CO2 neutrality and reinforcing capability, make it an ideal candidate for the development of novel polymer composite materials. Considerable efforts are now being made to effectively utilize waste lignin as one of the components in polymer matrices for high performance composite applications. This article is intended to summarize the recent advances and issues involving the use of lignin in the development of new polymer composite materials. In this review, we have made an attempt to classify different types of lignin-reinforced polymer composites starting from synthetic to biodegradable polymer matrices and highlight recent advances in multifunctional applications of lignin. The structural features and functions of the lignin/polymer composite systems are discussed in each section. The current research trends in lignin-based materials for engineering applications, including strategies for modification of lignin, fabrication of thermoset/thermoplastic/biodegradable/rubber/foam composites, and the use of lignin as a compatibilizer are presented. This study will increase the interest of researchers all around the globe in lignin-based polymer composites and the development of new ideas in this field.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1072-1092
Number of pages21
JournalACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering
Issue number5
Publication statusPrint publication - 16 Mar 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Chemical composition
  • Green composites
  • Multifunctional applications
  • Processing
  • Surface treatments
  • Sustainable materials


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