Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology

, Volume 84, Issue 1–9, pp 153–162 | Cite as

Oxidative cracking of precipitated hardwood lignin by hydrogen peroxide

  • Qian Xiang
  • Y. Y. Lee


Precipitated hardwood lignin (PHL) is a major byproduct in the biomassto-ethanol process. Oxidativecracking of PHL by hydrogen peroxide in aqueous medium was investigated as a means to produce potentially useful chemicals. The cracking reaction takes place at moderate temperatures (80–160°C), giving mono-and dicarboxylic acids as the main products. The yields of these products are in the range of 30–50% of initial lignin. The reaction mechanism and the product distribution are dependent upon the reaction conditions, especially the pH. The reaction under strong alkaline condition proceeds well even at low reaction temperatures (80–90°C). Under acidic conditions, higher temperatures (130–160°C) are required to attain the same degrees of cracking. The reaction patterns of the oxidative cracking reaction involve the cleavage of lignin ring, aryl ether bond, or other linkages within lignin. By using the findings of this investigation and those of previous work, we have illustrated the reaction pathways for degradation of PHL under alkaline and acidic conditions. Aldehydes and aromatic acids are interm ediate products in the oxidative degradation of lignin. However, they were produced only in trace amounts owing to rapid degradation induced by hydrogen peroxide.

Index Entries

Lignin oxidation degradation hydrogen peroxide 


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Copyright information

© Humana Press Inc 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Chemical EngineeringAuburn UniversityAuburn

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