A mild lignin-first acidolysis process (140 °C, 40 min) was developed using the benign solvent dimethyl carbonate (DMC) and ethylene glycol (EG) as a stabilization agent/solvent to produce a high yield of aromatic monophenols directly from softwood lignocellulose (pine, spruce, cedar, and Douglas fir) with a depolymerization efficiency of 77–98 %. Under the optimized conditions (140 °C, 40 min, 400 wt % EG and 2 wt % H2SO4 to pinewood), up to 9 wt % of the aromatic monophenol was produced, reaching a degree of delignification in pinewood of 77 %. Cellulose was also preserved, as evidenced by a 85 % glucose yield after enzymatic digestion. An in-depth analysis of the depolymerization oil was conducted by using GC-MS, HPLC, 2 D-NMR, and size-exclusion chromatography, which provided structural insights into lignin-derived dimers and oligomers and the composition of the sugars and derived molecules. Mass balance evaluation was performed.
- biomass valorization
- dimethyl carbonate