Lignin Alkaline Oxidation Using Reversibly-Soluble Bases

Jacob Kruger, Reagan Dreiling, Daniel Wilcox, Arik Ringsby, Katherine Noon, Camille Amador, David Brandner, Kelsey Ramirez, Stefan Haugen, Bruno Klein, Ryan Davis, Rebecca Hanes, Renee Happs, Nicholas Cleveland, Earl Christensen, Joel Miscall, Gregg Beckham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus Citations


Lignin valorization approaches, which are critical to biorefining, often involve depolymerization to aromatic monomers. Alkaline oxidation has long held promise as a lignin depolymerization strategy, but requires high concentrations of base, typically NaOH, much of which must be neutralized to recover lignin-derived aromatic monomers. This consumption of base and associated waste generation incurs high cost and negative environmental impacts. In this work, we demonstrate that Sr(OH)2 and Ba(OH)2 perform comparably to NaOH in terms of total aromatic monomer yields in the aqueous aerobic alkaline depolymerization of corn stover lignin, and that up to 90% of these reversibly-soluble bases can be recovered via precipitation and filtration. Process modeling suggests that the use of Sr(OH)2 could reduce the cost of alkaline oxidation by 20-60% compared to NaOH, depending on lignin loading. In contrast, the energy required to regenerate the Sr largely offsets potential improvements in sustainability over Na-promoted alkaline oxidation, though the sustainability comparison is likely sensitive to the lignin composition and could be improved by further optimization of the regeneration step.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)8733-8741
Number of pages9
JournalGreen Chemistry
Issue number22
StatePublished - 26 Oct 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Royal Society of Chemistry.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-2800-83169


  • alkaline oxidation
  • biorefining
  • environmental impacts
  • lignin
  • process modelling


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