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Complex oxygen-containing organic compound, a mixture of polymers of poorly known structure. After cellulose, it is the most abundant organic material on Earth, making up one-fourth to one-third of the dry weight of wood, where it is concentrated in the cell walls. Removed from wood pulp in the manufacture of paper, it is used as a binder in particleboard and similar products and as a soil conditioner, filler in certain plastics, adhesive ingredient, and raw material for chemicals including dimethyl sulfoxide and vanillin (synthetic vanilla flavouring).
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on lignin, visit Britannica.com.