Effect of metal triflates on the microwave-assisted catalytic hydrogenolysis of birch wood lignin to monophenolic compounds

Xudong Liu, Florent P. Bouxin*, Jiajun Fan, Richard Gammons, Vitaliy L. Budarin, Changwei Hu, James H. Clark

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The lignin-first biorefinery strategy could produce bio-based phenols from the extraction and depolymerization of native lignin in lignocellulosic biomass. Herein, we report an effective Lewis acid-promoted delignification and production of monophenolic compounds in birch sawdust assisted by microwave heating without external hydrogen for the first time. The screening of different metal triflates revealed that Fe(OTf)3 was best for the delignification and depolymerization of birch sawdust. Without the addition of a Lewis acid, the yield of monophenolic compounds was 10.5 wt% (based on the lignin content in birch sawdust), while it increased significantly to 32.9 wt% with the addition of Fe(OTf)3 (0.0276 g) under the identical conditions (190 °C, 1 h), which demonstrated the catalytic C[sbnd]O[sbnd]C bond scission promoted by Fe(OTf)3. Simultaneously, the delignification degree also rose sharply from 32.6 wt% to 47.5 wt%. This work demonstrated the efficient Fe(OTf)3-induced delignification and depolymerization of lignin in birch sawdust to obtain a high yield of monophenolic compounds without external hydrogen assisted by microwave heating, representing a novel advance in the “lignin-first” biorefinery field.

Original languageEnglish
Article number113515
Early online date14 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 21536007 ), the 111 project (No. B17030 ) and the Industrial Biotechnology Catalyst ( Innovate UK , BBSRC , EPSRC ) to support the translation, development and commercialization of innovative industrial Biotechnology processes ( EP/N013522/1 ). X. Liu acknowledges the support from Doctoral Graduate Student’s Academic Visit Project of Sichuan University .

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier B.V.

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Birch
  • Lignin
  • Metal triflates
  • Microwave
  • Monophenolic compounds

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