Single-step conversion of lignin monomers to phenol: Bridging the gap between lignin and high-value chemicals

Transformation of lignin into high-value chemicals is hampered by the complexity of monomers obtained from lignin depolymerization. Here we report a strategy, composed of hydro-demethoxylation and de-alkylation reactions, that is able to chemically converge various lignin-derived phenolic monomers into phenol in a single-step. Using 2-methoxy-4-propylphenol as a model compound, Pt/C exhibited the best performance in hydro-demethoxylation reaction affording >80% 4-propylphenol from 2-methoxy-4-propylphenol, while H-ZSM-5 was identified as the most suitable catalyst for de-alkylation, achieving 83% yield of phenol from 4-propylphenol. Since the two catalysts operate under compatible conditions, combining the two catalysts to simultaneously promote both hydro-demethoxylation and de-alkylation reactions was achieved. Configuration of how to organize the catalysts is a critical parameter, where the physical mixture of the two was most effective, providing over 60% phenol from 2-methoxy-4-propylphenol in a single-step.

Published in:
Chinese Journal of Catalysis, 39, 9, 1445-1452
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 Record created 2018-08-30, last modified 2019-06-19

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