Lignin is complex organic polymers of propyl phenol units, namely, coniferyl alcohol and sinapyl alcohol, with a minor quantity of p-coumaryl alcohol , The complex of these components is cross-linked together through carbon–carbon, ester, and ether linkages.
Lignins are particularly important in the formation of cell walls, especially in wood and bark, because they lend rigidity and do not rot easily. As a renewable raw material, lignin has the potential to extend to any product currently sourced from petrochemical substances.
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Lignin is an important constituent of the structural framework in plants forming part of the primary elements of the cell wall. By viewing the point of evolution, lignin has been attributed as the terrestrial variation that allows significant vertical growth.
As an important part of the cell, lignin provides support to plant by communicating rigidity to the cell wall. The plant resists ecological stresses because of building blocks of cell wall .
Lignin provides rigidity to the plants but in aggregation with the hetero-polysaccharides, it enhances flexibility which is central for suitable response to dynamic loads from wind and snow. Additionally, lignin changes the polysaccharide network to make it resistant to foreign organisms.
Lignin helps in the protection of woody tissues from microbial and fungal attack covering the carbohydrate structure, causing reduced availability of enzymes for hydrolysis. Partial solubility and complexity of the lignin makes it tough for degradation by microorganisms .
Still, with the diversity of associations, harmful organisms for wood require the breakage of aryl carbon bonds and aryl ether bonds requiring increasing the cost of production of specific enzymes or developing non-specific pathways for delignification. Additionally, lignin is less hydrophilic in nature than the polysaccharides helping to alter the permeability of cell wall by sealing it and enabling water transport through the vascular tissue .
The aromaticity of lignin lends itself to improving the heat stability of wood. Lignin nature has been broken with separated technical lignin, changing it into carbon fiber by using controlled increased temperature. While lignin is more heat stable but the structure of lignin is greatly obstructed by the thermal change and scientists should be advised that lignin structure can alter by processing at higher temperatures used in the production some thermoplastic materials.
This type of modification comprised of polymerization, loss of hydroxyl group and synthesis of new acidic groups.
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