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Applied Catalysis A: General, Vol.582, 2019
Catalytic cleavage of the beta-O-4 aryl ether bonds of lignin model compounds by Ru/C catalyst
Lignin is a potential renewable feedstock for aromatic compounds. Lignin glues cellulose and hemicellulose together in a rigid structure that protects plants from weather, insects, and disease. This rigidity also poses a barrier to cleavage of lignin into aromatic compounds. Typically, lignin is depolymerized by metal-catalyzed hydrogenolysis of its beta-O-4 aryl ether (C-beta-O) bonds; this process requires high H-2 pressure. Here, we show that the abundant aliphatic hydroxyl groups (C-alpha-OH) in lignin structure, can serve as the hydrogen source in Ru-catalyzed hydrogenolysis of the C-beta-O bonds. We pretreated the Ru/C catalyst under reducing and oxidizing conditions to generate various Ru/RuO2 ratios. Then we investigated the effects of Ru and RuO2 on hydrogenolysis of the C-beta-O bonds of lignin model compounds. We used X-ray diffraction (XRD) and H-2 Temperature programmed reduction (TPR) to determine changes of grain size and Ru content of the Ru/C catalysts, respectively. Our results revealed that Ru/C catalyzed hydrogenolysis of beta-O-4 aryl ether bonds with internal hydrogen (self-hydrogen) as a hydrogen source. The elimination of external H-2 in lignin hydrogenolysis is an efficient approach for lignin conversion to valuable aromatic chemicals.