Scientists from Germany employed a mechanochemical approach to cleave β-O-4-linkages in lignin.
In recent years, plant biomass has come to the fore due to it’s potential to replace fossil-fuel derived chemicals. Lignin is one of the three main constituents of biomass, but it’s use is hampered by its poor solubility and structural complexity. The β-O-4-linkage is the most abundant linkage found in lignin, and attempts to cleave them currently employ harsh reaction conditions.
Here, Carsten Bolm and colleagues have developed a base-assisted ball milling process for the degradation of lignin and wood. The process is transition metal- and solvent-free and is tolerant of standard reagent impurities and water. The authors hope that further work into optimising this reaction can reduce the current quantities of base required.
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Mechanochemical degradation of lignin and wood by solvent-free grinding in a reactive medium, Tillmann Kleine, Julien Buendia and Carsten Bolm, Green Chem., 2013, DOI: 10.1039/C2GC36456E
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