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(50a) Towards a New Understanding of the Retro-Aldol Reaction for Oxidative Conversion of Lignin to Aromatic Aldehydes and Acids

More, A. - Presenter, Auburn University
Jiang, Z., AC-PABE
Elder, T., Auburn University
Lignin is the most abundant natural biopolymer after cellulose and accounts for 30% of non-fossil carbon on earth. The retro-aldol reaction is one of the key steps involved in the oxidative conversion of lignin to aromatic aldehydes and acids. In principle, the retro-aldol reaction can proceed in the absence of oxygen. In this work, a new approach based on the influence of oxygen on the oxidation of lignin was investigated. The effect of reaction chemistry, time, temperature, and lignin feedstock play a key role on the yield of aromatic aldehydes and acids. At 140°C, oxidation of softwood Lignoboost kraft lignin for 40 minutes results in combined maximum yield of 5.17% w/w of vanillin and vanillic acid. In comparison, using the new approach in which oxygen was charged for only 20 minutes during the 40 minute reaction improved this yield considerably to 6.95%. Further, yield improvement was obtained when applying this approach to different lignin feedstocks. Oxidation also increased the carboxyl content of lignin from 0.49 mmol/g to 1.41 mmol/g which represents consequential improvement. The current study provides further evidence showing that the oxidation reaction is a crucial pathway for lignin valorization.


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