The Christmas tree will be disposed of in most households at the latest on the day of the Magi. So far, this usually lands completely in the biogas plant or on the compost. However, British researchers see this as a waste. For example, they point out that the additional gain from the needles in the biogas plants is very low. At the same time, however, they consist of 85% lignocellulose – which could be used to extract important substances for the chemical industry. The necessary procedures are known and not particularly complex. However, they have not yet been tested on a large scale with the needles of Christmas trees. A mistake – at least the British researchers think and now want to push the issue further.
Multiple applications: from mouthwash to glue
Technically, the lignocellulose in a biorefinery can be split into several parts using heat and solvents. In this way, phenols can be recovered, for example, which in turn are used in household cleaners and mouthwashes. Even in the food industry there are applications. This can be split off acetic acid and sugar. The two substances are used, for example, in sweeteners. Likewise with paints and adhesives. The advantage of using pine needles is obvious: The required chemical raw materials are obtained in a natural way – which is usually more environmentally friendly than the previously used artificial methods. In addition, the costs are comparatively low because there is no other meaningful use for the needles.
There are no industrially usable processes
However, it is still unclear how the processing of the old Christmas trees can be realized economically. Because it is clear: With the trunk and the branches, the chemical industry can do little. They will therefore continue to land in the biogas plant. To separate the needles from the branches, but should not be so easy. However, if the lignocellulosic decomposition process proves to be promising, researchers should also find a solution to this problem. So far, however, it is still an idea in the early stages. The future will show to what extent the utilization of the old Christmas trees can actually be optimized in this way. In any case, supplies should not be lacking in the coming years.
Via: DLF Nova