Mechanochemical degradation of lignin and wood

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.

Graphical abstrct for C2GC36456E showing the resulting compounds produced after ball milling lignin and beech woodHere, 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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Mechanocatalysis for biomass-derived chemicals and fuels, Sandra M. Hick, Carolin Griebel, David T. Restrepo, Joshua H. Truitt, Eric J. Buker, Caroline Bylda and Richard G. Blair, Green Chem., 2010, 12, 468-474

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