Peracetic Acid Depolymerization of Biorefinery Lignin for Production of Selective Monomeric Phenolic Compounds

Xiaowen Chen, Ruoshui Ma, Mond Guo, Kuan-ting Lin, Vincent Hebert, Jinwen Zhang, Michael Wolcott, Melissa Quintero, Karthikeyan Ramasamy, Xiao Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus Citations


Lignin is the largest source of renewable material with an aromatic skeleton. However, due to the recalcitrant and heterogeneous nature of the lignin polymer, it has been a challenge to effectively depolymerize lignin and produce high-value chemicals with high selectivity. In this study, a highly efficient lignin-to-monomeric phenolic compounds (MPC) conversion method based on peracetic acid (PAA) treatment was reported. PAA treatment of two biorefinery lignin samples, diluted acid pretreated corn stover lignin (DACSL) and steam exploded spruce lignin (SESPL), led to complete solubilization and production of selective hydroxylated monomeric phenolic compounds (MPC-H) and monomeric phenolic acid compounds (MPC-A) including 4-hydroxy-2-methoxyphenol, p-hydroxybenzoic acid, vanillic acid, syringic acid, and 3,4-dihydroxybenzoic acid. The maximized MPC yields obtained were 18 and 22 % based on the initial weight of the lignin in SESPL and DACSL, respectively. However, we found that the addition of niobium pentoxide catalyst to PAA treatment of lignin can significantly improve the MPC yields up to 47 %. The key reaction steps and main mechanisms involved in this new lignin-to-MPC valorization pathway were investigated and elucidated.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)10884-10891
Number of pages8
JournalChemistry - A European Journal
Issue number31
StatePublished - 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5100-66818


  • biomass
  • C−C bond
  • depolymerization
  • lignin
  • oxidation


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