Enhancing α-etherification of lignin in Eucalyptus diol pretreatment to improve lignin monomer production

Chengyu Dong, Xianzhi Meng, Shao Yuan Leu, Lujiang Xu, Zhilin Wu, Giancarlo Cravotto, Zhen Fang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


In this work, α-etherification of lignin in diol pretreatment was selectively enhanced at mild temperature for lignin isolation and subsequent valorisation. More than 90 % of lignin was removed from Eucalyptus at 120 °C in diol (ethylene glycol and 1,4-butanediol) pretreatment, resulting in >90 % cellulose conversion in 24 h at 7.5 FPU/g glucan cellulase loading. Subsequent catalytic transfer hydrogenolysis of the isolated lignins with Ru/C in ethanol gave 15 % monomer yield on native lignin basis, 5 times of that from the technical ethanol process (170 °C). HSQC NMR analysis revealed that diol pretreated lignin (120 °C) contained ∼23 % α-etherified β–O–4 interunit bonds, indicating that lignin degradation (i.e. cleavage of β–O–4 bonds) was suppressed via etherification by grafting a hydroxyl group at the α position of lignin. This finding was consistent with the isolated lignin (120 °C) had less number of phenolic OH and higher molecular weight via 31P NMR and GPC analysis. 31P NMR analysis also revealed that diol isolated lignin contained more number of aliphatic OH than ethanol-isolated lignin, which increased lignin solubility and maintained the high yield (>80 %) of isolated lignin from Eucalyptus at 120 °C as expected. In summary, diol pretreatment of woody biomass can effectively isolate more lignin for hydrogenolysis to valued-added monomers without compromising the isolated yield of lignin and hydrolysis yield of remained cellulose.

Original languageEnglish
Article number115130
JournalIndustrial Crops and Products
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2022


  • Catalytic transfer hydrogenolysis
  • Cellulose hydrolysis
  • Diol pretreatment
  • Eucalyptus
  • NMR
  • α-etherification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science


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