Dissolving lignin

James Sherwood is a guest web-writer for Green Chemistry. James is a research associate in the Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence at the University of York. His interests range from the certification and application of bio-based products, to the understanding of solvent effects in organic synthesis.

The separation of lignocellulosic biomass into its three component polymers; cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin, is an important field of research relevant to biorefineries and the production of bio-based products. The chemical valorisation of polysaccaharides (to bio-ethanol for example) and the paper industries leave the lignin behind as waste.

Rich in aromatic functionality, it is unfortunate that because of the poor solubility of lignin up to 40% of lignocellulosic biomass feedstock is consigned to low value applications.Graphical abstract ammonia lignin

The use of ammonia as a solvent for lignin has now been revisited by a team of Dutch scientists in order to resolve this solubilisation bottleneck. Ammonia was shown to readily dissolve most varieties of lignin at room temperature and 7-11 bar, and can be removed simply by releasing the pressure.

The mild conditions make ammonia an attractive solvent for biorefineries looking to maximise lignocellulosic biomass utilisation. Furthermore the necessary apparatus is already incorporated into biorefineries for the ammonia fibre explosion (AFEX) process.

This article is open access and available to everyone to read for free:

Lignin solubilisation and gentle fractionation in liquid ammonia

Zea Strassberger, Pepijn Prinsen, Frits van der Klis, Daan S. van Es, Stefania Tanasea and Gadi Rothenberg

Green Chem., 2014, Advance Article. DOI: 10.1039/C4GC01143K

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Alane without aluminum byproduct

pXRD alane synthesis under hydrogenResearchers from Iowa State University have recently developed a route to non-solvated aluminum trihydride (alane), free of metallic aluminum. The reaction occurs at room temperature by the mechanical milling of lithium aluminum hydride and aluminum chloride and a nearly complete conversion can be achieved in 30–60 mins. The formation of aluminum can be entirely avoided above a certain critical pressure, which depends on the nature of the gas and the milling parameters. An intermediate was identified in the process, which reacts to produce alane and lithium chloride.

Due to the impractical conditions required for the direct hydrogenation of aluminum, alternative routes that allow for the large-scale preparation of alane are essential, for example the one described in this paper. The authors have also recently introduced a mechanochemical synthesis of alane using lithium hydride as a starting material, which directly leads to adduct-free alane.

Check out the original article online now:

Solvent-free mechanochemical synthesis of alane, AlH3: effect of pressure on the reaction pathway
S. Gupta, T. Kobayashi, I. Z. Hlova, J. F. Goldston, M. Pruski, and V. K. Pecharsky
Green Chem. 2014, 16, 4378.
DOI: 10.1039/C4GC00998C

Jenna Flogeras obtained her B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Chemistry from the University of New Brunswick (Fredericton), Canada. She is currently a Ph.D. student at Memorial University in Newfoundland, where she studies aluminum-based catalysts under the supervision of Dr. Francesca Kerton.

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Waste office paper comes to a sticky end

Article written by Debbie Houghton

Paper cannot be recycled into new paper indefinitely

A process for generating aluminium–aluminium bonding adhesives from waste office paper could give a purpose to paper than can no longer be recycled into more paper. 

Paper can typically only be recycled as a new paper product 3–4 times, after this the fibres become too short to be used in new paper or cardboard. Finding alternative ways of reusing this readily available resource is crucial.

To read the full article please visit Chemistry World.

Low-temperature microwave-assisted pyrolysis of waste office paper and the application of bio-oil as an Al adhesive
Zhanrong Zhang, Duncan J. Macquarrie, Mario De bruyn, Vitaliy L. Budarin, Andrew J. Hunt, Mark J. Gronnow, Jiajun Fan, Peter S. Shuttleworth, James H. Clark and Avtar S. Matharu  
Green Chem., 2014, Advance Article
DOI: 10.1039/C4GC00768A, Paper

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Walter Leitner and Jürgen Klankermayer – Winners of the European Sustainable Chemistry Award

We are delighted to announce that Walter Leitner, Green Chemistry Editorial Board Chair, has been awarded the 2014 European Sustainable Chemistry Award alongside Jürgen Klankermayer, also from the Institute of Technical and Macromolecular Chemistry at the RWTH Aachen University.

The European Sustainable Chemistry Award is intended to be a prestigious scheme to raise the profile of sustainable chemistry and be a spur to innovation and competitiveness. The ESCA was initially launched in 2010 by EuCheMS and its current prize amounts to €10,000. A full list of sponsors can be found on the website.

The Award covers innovations in the following scientific areas:

- the use of alternative synthetic pathways, that increase resource efficiency and selectivity e.g. with the help of catalysis or natural processes

- the use of alternative feedstocks which are safer and/or renewable e.g. based on biomass

- the use of alternative reactor design and reaction conditions, such as use of solvents which deliver health and environmental benefits, or increased yield and reduced waste and emissions

- the design and use of chemicals and chemical products that are, for example, less environmentally harmful than current alternatives, or inherently safer with regard to hazardous concerns

Visit the website for more information on the EuCheMS and the prizes awarded.

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Renewable Chemicals from Lignin Symposium

A one day symposium is being held on 18th November 2014 in London, UK on the subject of Renewable Chemicals from Lignin. This event aims to bring together researchers from academia and industry at all levels interested in the chemistry, processing and applications of lignin in order to share the science, address the challenges in the field and build collaborations for the future.

The following four topics will be covered with a range of presentations from UK and international speakers.

  • Lignin structure
  • Bio-catalytic conversion
  • Chemo-catalytic breakdown
  • Applications

The programme of this meeting will feature both oral, flash poster and conventional poster presentations. The Scientific committee involved in organising the event includes: Tim BuggUniversity of Warwick, (Chair), Simon McQueen MasonUniversity of York, Rob FieldJohn Innes Centre, Norwich, Mike JarvisUniversity of Glasgow and Adrian HigsonNNFCC, York and Bio Base NWE project.

Registration is now open, so visit the website to find out more!

Renewable Chemicals from Lignin, Chemistry Centre, London, UK, 18th November 2014

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A graphene photocatalysed synthesis of chiral alcohols

James Sherwood is a guest web-writer for Green Chemistry. James is a research associate in the Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence at the University of York. His interests range from the certification and application of bio-based products, to the understanding of solvent effects in organic synthesis.

The asymmetric, enzymatic reduction of ketones has been enhanced with a graphene derived light harvesting photocatalyst. Typically the use of reducing enzymes for specialty chemical synthesis is restricted by the cost of the redox cofactor. In this example the enzyme cofactor is recycled via a rhodium complex. The energy needed to do this is delivered by the chlorophyll mimicking graphene. Enantioselectivity to the resulting alcohols is high, and applicable to both aliphatic and aromatic ketones.

Graphene photocatalysis bio-catalysis chiral alcohols

The scientists from KRICT responsible for this research believe that artificial photosynthesis using functionalised graphene shows promise for energy generation and sustainable chemical production in the near future, with applications including carbon dioxide sequestering reactions already proven as viable.

Check out the full article – online now!

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Green Chemistry Impact Factor rises to 6.85

We are delighted to announce that Green Chemistry’s Impact Factor* has risen to a new high of 6.85!

A huge thank you goes to all of our authors, referees and Editorial and Advisory Board members for their help and support on the Journal.

Green Chemistry is celebrating fifteen years of publishing cutting edge research on the development of alternative sustainable technologies and to mark the occasion we have invited contributions from authors who have green coverhighly cited articles from each of the past 15 years. The result is a growing collection which you can read online here.

We invite you to submit your latest research on sustainable chemistry and technology to Green Chemistry.

Read more about the 2013 Impact Factors from across RSC Publishing on the RSC Publishing Blog.

*The Impact Factor provides an indication of the average number of citations per paper. Produced annually, Impact Factors are calculated by dividing the number of citations in a year by the number of citeable articles published in the preceding two years. Data based on 2013 Journal Citation Reports®, (Thomson Reuters, 2014).

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Plant plastics reach for the stars – Green Chemistry article in Chemistry World

Aminoethoxy ethanol substituted phosphazene

Virginia Nykänen and colleagues at Aalto University, Finland have transformed rice starch into a temporally stable, optically transparent, biodegradable plastic with a high degree of mechanical strength and good thermal resistance.

This important step towards bioplastics made from simple and sustainable resources has potential applications in food packaging and biomedical materials.

Read the full article here in Chemistry World.

This paper is free to access until 8 September, so download it now:

V P S Nykänen et al, Green Chemistry, 2014, DOI: 10.1039/c4gc00794h

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3rd International Symposium on Green Chemistry

The 3rd International Symposium on Green Chemistry will be taking place from May 3–7, 2015 in La Rochelle, France.

ISGC-2015 will bring together all those who are involved with research in green chemistry: academic scientists, R&D researchers, key opinion leaders, and young researchers. A unique scientific program is planned with speakers from international academic institutions, companies in chemical, biotechnological, cosmetical and pharmaceutical sectors, start-ups and engineering.

The symposium will offer 200 oral communications (flash & oral communications) and several poster sessions. During ISGC-2015 the organizing committee with the expertise of the scientific committee will present green chemistry awards: an ISGC “Green Chemistry” award, a Young Researcher award (<40years) and poster awards.

Each topic will be introduced by a plenary lecture delivered by an eminent scientist of the field. Several plenary speakers have already been confirmed including:

ISGC 2015 invites all interested researchers to apply to the call for communication, so visit the website for further information and to get involved now!

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2nd International Symposium on C–H Activation

Congratulations to Daniel Zell and Tatiana Besset, who were awarded Royal Society of Chemistry poster prizes at the 2nd International Symposium on C–H Activation.

Green Chemistry was pleased to sponsor the symposium, which took place from June 30th – July 3rd, 2014 in Rennes, France with the aim of presenting to academic and industry researchers the recent researches and developments of C-H bond activation/functionalization.

The symposium was attended by Chao-Jun Li, Editorial Board member of Green Chemistry who presented the poster prize to Daniel Zell, University of Göttingen, Germany for his poster entitled “Meta-selective C−H bond alkylation by ruthenium catalysis”.

Tatiana Besset, University of Rouen, France was also awarded a poster prize for her poster with the title “Direct introduction of fluorinated groups on alkenes and alkynes”.

For more details about the meeting, visit the symposium website.

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