SUSFERT soil improver presented at ISGC

SAPPI Chemical Engineer, Nikolaus Schwaiger, presented Sappi and SUSFERT research into the polymerisation of lignosulphonates for soil improvers to the prestigious International Symposium on Green Chemistry (ISGC) held in La Rochelle, France, in May this year.

SAPPI Chemical Engineer, Nikolaus Schwaiger, presents at the ISGC held in La Rochelle, France.

The ISGC is organised by the leading global research institute, the National Center for Scientific Research, or CNRS, which falls under the responsibility of the French Ministry of Education and Research.

Schwaiger’s presentation was titled Bio-Catalyzed Polymerization of Lignosulphonates where he explained how wood-based lignosulphonates from the paper-making industry could be used for fertiliser coatings.

Lignosulphonates are the most abundant side product of the sulphite pulping process which is carried out at the Sappi Mill in Gratkorn, Austria. Their main use up to now has been to generate energy and heat production by incineration and to recover chemicals.

Schwaiger who works at the Gratkorn Mill explained how a special enzyme, laccase, is used for the polymerization of lignosulphonates. Using oxygen, this can transform the lignosulphonates into phenoxy radicals and polymerization occurs.

Schematic representation of laccase catalytic cycle: The oxidation of four substrate molecules to the respective radicals leads to the formation of two molecules of water from molecular oxygen. Copyright Elisa Ghitti.

Over the duration of the project, SUSFERT partners from Sappi and the Department of Agrobiotechnology (IFA) from the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna (BOKU) have contributed research into this area. More can be read HERE.

The fertiliser soil improvers and coatings have been tested in field trials in Marchfeld and in France.

Aim of CNRS as organisers of ISGC

The ISGC Website says that the CNRS aims to:

Evaluate and carry out all research capable of advancing knowledge and bringing social, cultural, and economic benefits for society.

Contribute to the promotion and application of research results.

Develop scientific information.

Support research training.

Participate in the analysis of the national and international scientific climate and its potential for evolution in order to develop a national policy.


INCREASE is a CNRS research centre which is a network between public laboratories, R&D centres and industrial companies involved in green chemistry.