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Chem Sci. 2018 Sep 6;9(42):8127-8133. doi: 10.1039/c8sc03208d. eCollection 2018 Nov 14.

Gold-catalyzed conversion of lignin to low molecular weight aromatics.

Author information

1
Department of Chemistry , University of Kentucky , 505 Rose Street , Lexington , KY 40506 , USA.
2
Center for Applied Energy Research (CAER) , University of Kentucky , 2540 Research Park Drive , Lexington , KY 40511 , USA . Email: mark.crocker@uky.edu.
3
Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center , The Wisconsin Energy Institute , University of Wisconsin-Madison , 1552 University Avenue , Madison , WI 53726 , USA.
4
Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering , University of Wisconsin-Madison , 1415 Engineering Drive , Madison , WI 53726 , USA.
5
European Bioenergy Research Institute , Aston University , Aston Triangle , Birmingham , B4 7ET , UK.
6
Department of Biochemistry , University of Wisconsin-Madison , 433 Babcock Drive , Madison , WI 53706 , USA.
7
School of Science , RMIT University , 124 La Trobe Street , Melbourne , VIC 3000 , Australia.

Abstract

A heterogeneous catalyst system, employing Au nanoparticles (NPs) and Li-Al (1 : 2) layered double hydroxide (LDH) as support, showed excellent activity in aerobic oxidation of the benzylic alcohol group in β-O-4 linked lignin model dimers to the corresponding carbonyl products using molecular oxygen under atmospheric pressure. The synergistic effect between Au NPs and the basic Li-Al LDH support induces further reaction of the oxidized model compounds, facilitating facile cleavage of the β-O-4 linkage. Extension to oxidation of γ-valerolactone (GVL) extracted lignin and kraft lignin using Au/Li-Al LDH under similar conditions produced a range of aromatic monomers in high yield. Hydrolysis of the Au/Li-Al LDH oxidized lignin was found to increase the degree of lignin depolymerization, with monomer yields reaching 40% for GVL extracted lignin. Based on these results, the Au/Li-Al LDH + O2 catalyst system shows potential to be an environmentally friendly means of depolymerizing lignin to low molecular weight aromatics under mild conditions.

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