Final Report: Investigation of Catalytic Pathways for Lignin Breakdown into Monomers and Fuels

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Lignin is a biopolymer that comprises up to 35% of woody biomass by dry weight. It is currently underutilized compared to cellulose and hemicellulose, the other two primary components of woody biomass. Lignin has an irregular structure of methoxylated aromatic groups linked by a suite of ether and alkyl bonds which makes it difficult to degrade selectively. However, the aromatic components of lignin also make it promising as a base material for the production of aromatic fuel additives and cyclic chemical feed stocks such as styrene, benzene, and cyclohexanol. Our laboratory research focused on three methods to selectively cleave and ... continued below

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Gluckstein, Jeffrey A; Hu, Michael Z.; Kidder, Michelle; McFarlane, Joanna; Narula, Chaitanya Kumar & Sturgeon, Matthew R December 1, 2010.

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Description

Lignin is a biopolymer that comprises up to 35% of woody biomass by dry weight. It is currently underutilized compared to cellulose and hemicellulose, the other two primary components of woody biomass. Lignin has an irregular structure of methoxylated aromatic groups linked by a suite of ether and alkyl bonds which makes it difficult to degrade selectively. However, the aromatic components of lignin also make it promising as a base material for the production of aromatic fuel additives and cyclic chemical feed stocks such as styrene, benzene, and cyclohexanol. Our laboratory research focused on three methods to selectively cleave and deoxygenate purified lignin under mild conditions: acidolysis, hydrogenation and electrocatalysis. (1) Acidolysis was undertaken in CH2Cl2 at room temperature. (2) Hydrogenation was carried out by dissolving lignin and a rhodium catalyst in 1:1 water:methoxyethanol under a 1 atm H2 environment. (3) Electrocatalysis of lignin involved reacting electrically generated hydrogen atoms at a catalytic palladium cathode with lignin dissolved in a solution of aqueous methanol. In all of the experiments, the lignin degradation products were identified and quantified by gas chromatography mass spectroscopy and flame ionization detection. Yields were low, but this may have reflected the difficulty in recovering the various fractions after conversion. The homogeneous hydrogenation of lignin showed fragmentation into monomers, while the electrocatalytic hydrogenation showed production of polyaromatic hydrocarbons and substituted benzenes. In addition to the experiments, promising pathways for the conversion of lignin were assessed. Three conversion methods were compared based on their material and energy inputs and proposed improvements using better catalyst and process technology. A variety of areas were noted as needing further experimental and theoretical effort to increase the feasibility of lignin conversion to fuels.

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  • Report No.: ORNL/TM-2010/281
  • Grant Number: DE-AC05-00OR22725
  • DOI: 10.2172/1000304 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 1000304
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc839796

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  • December 1, 2010

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  • May 19, 2016, 3:16 p.m.

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  • June 10, 2016, 1:16 p.m.

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Gluckstein, Jeffrey A; Hu, Michael Z.; Kidder, Michelle; McFarlane, Joanna; Narula, Chaitanya Kumar & Sturgeon, Matthew R. Final Report: Investigation of Catalytic Pathways for Lignin Breakdown into Monomers and Fuels, report, December 1, 2010; United States. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc839796/: accessed November 16, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.