AbstractIn order to improve the molecular weight and application of a lignin byproduct, the trimethyl quaternary ammonium salt of lignin-sodium alginate polyampholyte (QL-SA) was prepared with trimethyl quaternary ammonium salt of lignin (QL) and sodium alginate (SA), using the cross-linker glutaraldehyde. Its structure was analyzed by FTIR, SEM, and analysis of nitrogen and carboxylic contents. Results showed that QL and SA were grafted successfully. The nitrogen content was diminished from 4.21% to 3.69% and its carboxyl content increased from 2.66 mmol/g to 6.47 mmol/g. The product behaved as flocculant by electrostatic interactions and bridging actions. The effects of QL-SA on the flocculation performance of dyes were investigated with methylene blue and acid black ATT water as the representative dyes. The maximum decolorization rate of acid black ATT was 94.91% and methylene blue was 97.11% under the corresponding optimal conditions (5 g/L of the flocculant at pH 3, 30 °C, and 8 g/L at pH 8, 30 °C). The effect of QL-SA was found to be markedly superior to SA and QL on the whole. The QL-SA showed promise for practical applications.