Borregaard LignoTech’s history began as early as 1927 with the first research on lignin properties at Marathon Co.

Through the years, more and more applications have been added using the dispersing and binding properties of lignins and lignosulphonates. Innovation is still one of the key drivers for the company.

Major Milestones in LignoTech's History

1927 Borregaard LignoTech starts research on the commercial use of spent sulphite liquor
1934 Full scale production of lignosulphonates begins at Marathon´s (now LignoTech USA's) Rothschild, WI facility
1967 Borregaard starts production of lignosulphonates in Sarpsborg, Norway
1990 Borregaard acquires Holmen LignoTech and starts operating as Borregaard LignoTech
1991 Acquisition of Daishowa Chemicals (earlier Marathon Co.) Rothschild, USA
1994 New kraft lignin plant in Bäckhammar, Sweden
1995 Co-operation agreement for raw materials with Atisholz AG, Switzerland
1996 Joint-Venture with Shixian in China
1998 Joint-Venture with Sappi Saiccor in South Africa
2002 Borregaard acquires Atisholz AG, Switzerland
2003 Capacity expansion in South Africa
2004 Acquisition of Biotech in Austria
2006 Acquisition of Melbar in Brasil
2008 Capacity expansion in South Africa

The world’s first investigations into commercial development and application of lignin were performed in Rothschild, WI. In its early years, Marathon Co (Borregaard LignoTech's U.S. production facility) followed the common practice in the industry of discharging spent pulping liquors directly to the rivers. In 1927, however, Marathon assigned a group of chemists and engineers to the task of developing commercial products from the organic solids in the spent sulphite liquor. The first products to show promise were leather tanning agents. Later, the characteristics of lignin as dispersing agents and binders became evident.

In 1965, Borregaard began negotiations with American Can Co (formerly Marathon) to license their technology for the production of refined lignosulphonates. A technical assistance agreement was signed in January 1967 and production commenced in the summer of 1968. The various products manufactured consisted of calcium, sodium, ammonium, iron and chromium salts derived from lignosulphonic acid that was processed in different ways, and were applied as dispersants, emulsion stabilisers, battery expanders, concrete admixtures, clay plasticisers and binding agents.

In 1970-71, only about 10-15% of the potential lignosulphonate output was used for vanillin and lignin production. However, it did not take long until lignin sales began to increase dramatically, and research gave rise to new grades of purified lignin based products.

The next watershed in history was reached in 1990 with the acquisition of Holmen LignoTech and Borregaard's Lignin Division, combining lignin operations in Norway, Sweden, Germany, Spain, and the UK. The world's two leading lignin manufacturers joined forces to create Borregaard LignoTech, which is headquartered in Sarpsborg, Norway. Borregaard LignoTech, backed by the financial strength of the Orkla Group, expanded its operations by building a new kraft lignin plant in Sweden and purchasing the lignin operations of Serlachius in Finland and Daishowa (formerly Marathon Corporation) in the USA.

Through the acquisition of part-interests in other companies and co-operation agreements, Borregaard LignoTech gained access to new sources of lignin in China, South Africa, and Switzerland (acquired with the purchase of Atisholz in 2002).The product range of the founding companies, broadened by the contribution of the newly acquired companies, now comprises more than two hundred different lignin derivatives.