Microwave-assisted catalytic depolymerization of lignin from birch sawdust to produce phenolic monomers utilizing a hydrogen-free strategy

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

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Catalytic hydrogenolysis of lignin to obtain value-added phenolic chemicals is a sustainable and cost-effective strategy for the efficient valorization of biomass derived wastes. Herein, an innovative approach by using a single-step microwave assisted depolymerization of lignin from birch sawdust without external hydrogen in the mixture of water-alcohol (methanol, ethanol, isopropanol) co-solvents over commercial catalysts (Pd/C, Pt/C, Ru/C) was investigated. A 65 wt% yield of phenolic monomers was obtained based on 43.8 wt% of delignification (190 °C, 3 h). The solid residues retained 92.0 wt% of cellulose and 57.3 wt% of hemicellulose, which could be further used for fermentation or in the pulp industry. Analysis of the lignin oil revealed that in-situ hydrogen generated from methanol decomposition promoted the hydrogenolysis of β–O–4 ether linkage and selective hydrogenation of unsaturated side-chains of phenolic monomers. This work introduces new perspectives for the efficient and cost-effective production of value-added phenolic compounds from lignin in agro-industrial wastes without external hydrogen assisted by microwave heating.

Original languageEnglish
Article number123490
JournalJournal of hazardous materials
Early online date16 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2021


  • Birch sawdust
  • In-situ hydrogen
  • Lignin valorization
  • Microwave heating
  • Phenolic monomers

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