Lignin valorization strategies are a key factor for achieving more economically competitive biorefineries based on lignocellulosic biomass. Most of the emerging elegant procedures to obtain specific aromatic products rely on the lignin substrate having a high content of the readily cleavable β-O-4 linkage as present in the native lignin structure. This provides a miss-match with typical technical lignins that are highly degraded and therefore are low in β-O-4 linkages. Therefore, the extraction yields, and the quality of the obtained lignin are of utmost importance to access new lignin valorization pathways. In this manuscript, a simple protocol is presented to obtain lignins with high β-O-4 content by relatively mild ethanol extraction that can be applied to different lignocellulose sources. Furthermore, analysis procedures to determine the quality of the lignins are presented together with a depolymerization protocol that yields specific phenolic 2-arylmethyl-1,3-dioxolanes, which can be used to evaluate the obtained lignins. The presented results demonstrate the link between lignin quality and potential for the lignins to be depolymerized into specific monomeric aromatic chemicals. Overall, the extraction and depolymerization demonstrates a trade-off between the lignin extraction yield and the retention of the native aryl-ether structure and thus the potential of the lignin to be used as the substrate for the production of chemicals for higher-value applications.
- ACID-CATALYZED DEPOLYMERIZATION