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A Bifunctional Brønsted Acidic Deep Eutectic Solvent to Dissolve and Catalyze the Depolymerization of Alkali Lignin

Lifen Li1, Zhigang Wu1, Xuedong Xi2, Baoyu Liu3, Yan Cao3, Hailong Xu3, Yingcheng Hu4,*

1 College of Forestry, Guizhou University, Guiyang, 550025, China
2 ENSTIB-LERMAB, University of Lorraine, Epinal, 88051, France
3 Special and Key Laboratory for Development and Utilization of Guizhou Superior Bio-Based Materials, Guizhou Minzu University, Guiyang, 550025, China
4 Key Laboratory of Bio-Based Material Science and Technology of Ministry of Education of China, College of Material Science and Engineering, Northeast Forestry University, Harbin, 150040, China

* Corresponding Author: Yingcheng Hu. Email:

Journal of Renewable Materials 2021, 9(2), 219-235.


Lignin is an abundant renewable macromolecular material in nature, and degradation of lignin to improve its hydroxyl content is the key to its efficient use. Alkali lignin (AL) was treated with Brønsted acidic deep eutectic solvent (DES) based on choline chloride and p-toluenesulfonic acid at mild reaction temperature, the structure of the lignin before and after degradation, as well as the composition of small molecules of lignin were analyzed in order to investigate the chemical structure changes of lignin with DES treatment, and the degradation mechanism of lignin in this acidic DES was elucidated in this work. FTIR and NMR analyses demonstrated the selective cleavage of the lignin ether linkages in the degradation process, which was in line with the increased content of phenolic hydroxyl species. XPS revealed that the O/C atomic ratio of the regenerated lignin was lower than that of the AL sample, revealing that the lignin underwent decarbonylation during the DES treatment. Regenerated lignin with low molecular weight and narrow polydispersity index was obtained, and the average molecular weight (Mw) decreased from 17680 g/mol to 2792 g/mol (130°C, 3 h) according to GPC analysis. The lignin-degraded products were mainly G-type phenolics and ketones, and small number of aldehydes were also generated, the possible degradation pathway of lignin in this acidic DES was proposed.


Cite This Article

Li, L., Wu, Z., Xi, X., Liu, B., Cao, Y. et al. (2021). A Bifunctional Brønsted Acidic Deep Eutectic Solvent to Dissolve and Catalyze the Depolymerization of Alkali Lignin. Journal of Renewable Materials, 9(2), 219–235.


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License , which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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