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Selective Cleavage of the Aryl Ether Bonds in Lignin for Depolymerization by Acidic Lithium Bromide Molten Salt Hydrate under Mild Conditions

Yang, Xiaohui, Li, Ning, Lin, Xuliang, Pan, Xuejun, Zhou, Yonghong
Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 2016 v.64 no.44 pp. 8379-8387
Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, biorefining, catalysts, corn cobs, depolymerization, ethanol, hardwood, hydrochloric acid, lignin, lithium, molecular weight, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, pulping, softwood
The present study demonstrates that the concentrated lithium bromide (LiBr) solution with acid as catalyst was able to selectively cleave the β-O-4 aryl ether bond and lead to lignin depolymerization under mild conditions (e.g., in 60% LiBr with 0.3 M HCl at 110 °C for 2 h). Four industrial lignins from different pulping and biorefining processes, including softwood kraft lignin (SKL), hardwood kraft lignin (HKL), softwood ethanol organosolv lignin (EOL), and acid corncob lignin (ACL), were treated in the LiBr solution. The molecular weight, functional group, and interunit linkages of the lignins were characterized using GPC, FTIR, and NMR. The results indicated that the β-O-4 aryl ether bonds of the lignins were selectively cleaved, and both LiBr and HCl played crucial roles in catalyzing the cleavage of the ether bonds.