AbstractEsterified kraft lignins (KL) were prepared by reaction with maleic anhydride (MA), succinic anhydride (SA), and phthalic anhydride (PA) in acetone solutions. The esterified lignins were characterized using ATR-FTIR, solid state CP-MAS 13C NMR spectroscopy, thermogravimetric analysis (TGA), and differential scanning calorimetry (DSC). PA modification resulted in the highest weight gain percent (WGP) when compared to MA and SA modifications. Spectroscopic analysis revealed decreases in hydroxyl content and increases in carbonyl (C=O) and ester groups of the modified KL as a result of esterification. The hydrophobic properties of the modified lignin increased. The MA- and SA-modified KL showed an increased thermal stability compared to unmodified KL. PA-modified lignin presented distinct thermal decomposition stages, which showed rapid degradation at lower temperature. The results of this study indicate that it is possible to change the basic properties of kraft lignin by anhydride modification to facilitate the production of high performance composites.