UMaine Researcher Looking to Reduce Petroleum Dependence Publishes Book

Book cover
Book cover

ORONO, Maine – Reducing the country’s dependence on petroleum-based products has become a priority and it’s something that University of Maine analytical chemist Martin Lawoko works toward achieving every day as part of UMaine’s Forest Bioproducts Research Institute.

Recently, he published a 68-page book about his research entitled “Lignin Carbohydrate Complexes in Softwood and Chemical Pulps.”

It explains how Lawoko studies the chemical interactions between wood components, such as cellulose, hemicelluloses and lignin, that have the potential to create valuable products from biomass as replacements for fossil related products.

“I work on ways to see bonds and linkages in wood, analyzing cell wall structures and linkages so wood fibers might be successfully separated and then later recombined as new products, new products that do not contain petroleum,” Lawoko explains. “The key to really using wood as a renewable resource – a substitute for fossil fuel – is how we break the fiber bonds to release the potential of wood’s core elements.”

Lawoko’s current work provides new insights into these interactions, more specifically, covalent bonds between lignin and carbohydrates, normally referred to as lignin carbohydrate complexes, and how structural differences between them affect their reactivity.

He designs and conducts experiments on chemical, thermal and physical properties of biomass, wood fibers, paper and other materials, and also maintains and operates a variety of laboratory facilities.

As part of UMaine’s Forest Bioproducts Research Institute, Lawoko is part of a broad array of campus researchers and scientists creating energy solutions and fossil fuel replacement products that signal the next generation of advances in wood technology. Some of those products include ethanol, phenols, carbon fibers, and organic acids.

Lawoko’s book, “Lignin Carbohydrate Complexes in Softwood and Chemical Pulps,” can be purchased online for $64 at It was published by VDM Verlag of Germany, which specializes in publishing academic research.