Tandem Catalytic Depolymerization of Lignin by Water-Tolerant Lewis Acids and Rhodium Complexes.
ABSTRACT: Lignin is an attractive renewable feedstock for aromatic bulk and fine chemicals production, provided that suitable depolymerization procedures are developed. Here, we describe a tandem catalysis strategy for ether linkage cleavage within lignin, involving ether hydrolysis by water-tolerant Lewis acids followed by aldehyde decarbonylation by a Rh complex. In?situ decarbonylation of the reactive aldehydes limits loss of monomers by recondensation, a major issue in acid-catalyzed lignin depolymerization. Rate of hydrolysis and decarbonylation were matched using lignin model compounds, allowing the method to be successfully applied to softwood, hardwood, and herbaceous dioxasolv lignins, as well as poplar sawdust, to give the anticipated decarbonylation products and, rather surprisingly, 4-(1-propenyl)phenols. Promisingly, product selectivity can be tuned by variation of the Lewis-acid strength and lignin source.
Project description:Background:In this work, three pretreatments under investigation at the DOE Bioenergy Research Centers (BRCs) were subjected to a side-by-side comparison to assess their performance on model bioenergy hardwoods (a eucalyptus and a hybrid poplar). These include co-solvent-enhanced lignocellulosic fractionation (CELF), pretreatment with an ionic liquid using potentially biomass-derived components (cholinium lysinate or [Ch][Lys]), and two-stage Cu-catalyzed alkaline hydrogen peroxide pretreatment (Cu-AHP). For each of the feedstocks, the pretreatments were assessed for their impact on lignin and xylan solubilization and enzymatic hydrolysis yields as a function of enzyme loading. Lignins recovered from the pretreatments were characterized for polysaccharide content, molar mass distributions, ?-aryl ether content, and response to depolymerization by thioacidolysis. Results:All three pretreatments resulted in significant solubilization of lignin and xylan, with the CELF pretreatment solubilizing the majority of both biopolymer categories. Enzymatic hydrolysis yields were shown to exhibit a strong, positive correlation with the lignin solubilized for the low enzyme loadings. The pretreatment-derived solubles in the [Ch][Lys]-pretreated biomass were presumed to contribute to inhibition of enzymatic hydrolysis in the eucalyptus as a substantial fraction of the pretreatment liquor was carried forward into hydrolysis for this pretreatment. The pretreatment-solubilized lignins exhibited significant differences in polysaccharide content, molar mass distributions, aromatic monomer yield by thioacidolysis, and ?-aryl ether content. Key trends include a substantially higher polysaccharide content in the lignins recovered from the [Ch][Lys] pretreatment and high ?-aryl ether contents and aromatic monomer yields from the Cu-AHP pretreatment. For all lignins, the 13C NMR-determined ?-aryl ether content was shown to be correlated with the monomer yield with a second-order functionality. Conclusions:Overall, it was demonstrated that the three pretreatments highlighted in this study demonstrated uniquely different functionalities in reducing biomass recalcitrance and achieving higher enzymatic hydrolysis yields for the hybrid poplar while yielding a lignin-rich stream that may be suitable for valorization. Furthermore, modification of lignin during pretreatment, particularly cleavage of ?-aryl ether bonds, is shown to be detrimental to subsequent depolymerization.
Project description:Lignin depolymerization could provide an attractive renewable aromatic feedstock for the chemical industry. Past studies have suggested that lignin structural features such as ether content are correlated to lignin's upgradeability. An obstacle to the development of a conclusive causal relationship between lignin structure and upgradeability has been the difficulty to quantitatively measure lignin structural features. Here, we demonstrated that a modified HSQC-NMR method known as HSQC0 can accurately quantify lignin functionalities in extracted lignin using several synthetic polymer models. We then prepared a range of isolated lignin samples with a wide range of ether contents (6–46%). By using a simple ether cleavage model, we were able to predict final depolymerization yields very accurately (<4% error), conclusively demonstrating the direct causal relationship between ether content and lignin activity. The accuracy of this model suggests that, unlike in native lignin, ether linkages no longer appear to be randomly distributed in isolated lignin.
Project description:The enzymatic hydrolysis of cellulose is inhibited by non-productive adsorption of cellulases to lignin, and that is particularly problematic with lignin-rich materials such as softwood. Although conventional surfactants alleviate non-productive adsorption, using biosurfactants in softwood hydrolysis has not been reported. In this study, the effects of four biosurfactants, namely horse-chestnut escin, Pseudomonas aeruginosa rhamnolipid, and saponins from red and white quinoa varieties, on the enzymatic saccharification of steam-pretreated spruce were investigated. The used biosurfactants improved hydrolysis, and the best-performing one was escin, which led to cellulose conversions above 90%, decreased by around two-thirds lignin inhibition of Avicel hydrolysis, and improved hydrolysis of pretreated spruce by 24%. Red quinoa saponins (RQS) addition resulted in cellulose conversions above 80%, which was around 16% higher than without biosurfactants, and it was more effective than adding rhamnolipid or white quinoa saponins. Cellulose conversion improved with the increase in RQS addition up to 6 g/100 g biomass, but no significant changes were observed above that dosage. Although saponins are known to inhibit yeast growth, no inhibition of Saccharomyces cerevisiae fermentation of hydrolysates produced with RQS addition was detected. This study shows the potential of biosurfactants for enhancing the enzymatic hydrolysis of steam-pretreated softwood.
Project description:Background:Lignin is a potential feedstock for microbial conversion into various chemicals. However, the degradation rate of native or technical lignin is low, and depolymerization is needed to obtain reasonable conversion rates. In the current study, base-catalyzed depolymerization-using NaOH (5 wt%)-of softwood Kraft lignin was conducted in a continuous-flow reactor system at temperatures in the range 190-240 °C and residence times of 1 or 2 min. The ability of growth of nine bacterial strains belonging to the genera Pseudomonas and Rhodococcus was tested using the alkaline-treated lignin as a sole carbon source. Results:Pseudomonas fluorescens and Rhodococcus opacus showed the best growth of the tested species on plates with lignin. Further evaluation of P. fluorescens and R. opacus was made in liquid cultivations with depolymerized lignin (DL) at a concentration of 1 g/L. Size exclusion chromatography (SEC) showed that R. opacus consumed most of the available lower molecular weight compounds (approximately 0.1-0.4 kDa) in the DL, but the weight distribution of larger fractions was almost unaffected. Importantly, the consumed compounds included guaiacol-one of the main monomers in the DL. SEC analysis of P. fluorescens culture broth, in contrast, did not show a large conversion of low molecular weight compounds, and guaiacol remained unconsumed. However, a significant shift in molecular weight distribution towards lower average weights was seen. Conclusions:Rhodococcus opacus and P. fluorescens were identified as two potential microbial candidates for the conversion/consumption of base-catalyzed depolymerized lignin, acting on low and high molecular weight lignin fragments, respectively. These findings will be of relevance for designing bioconversion of softwood Kraft lignin.
Project description:Background:Lignin is a potential feedstock for microbial conversion into various chemicals. However, the microbial degradation rate of native or technical lignin is low, and chemical depolymerization is needed to obtain reasonable conversion rates. In the current study, nine bacterial strains belonging to the Pseudomonas and Rhodococcus genera were evaluated for their ability to grow on alkaline-treated softwood lignin as a sole carbon source. Results:Pseudomonas fluorescens DSM 50090 and Rhodococcus opacus DSM1069 showed the best growth of the tested species on plates with lignin. Further evaluation of P. fluorescens and R. opacus was made in liquid cultivations with depolymerized softwood Kraft lignin (DL) at a concentration of 1 g/L. Size-exclusion chromatography (SEC) showed that R. opacus consumed most of the available lower-molecular weight compounds (approximately 0.1-0.4 kDa) in the DL, but the weight distribution of larger fractions was almost unaffected. Importantly, the consumed compounds included guaiacol-one of the main monomers in the DL. SEC analysis of P. fluorescens culture broth, in contrast, did not show a large conversion of low-molecular weight compounds, and guaiacol remained unconsumed. However, a significant shift in molecular weight distribution towards lower average weights was seen after cultivation with P. fluorescens. Conclusions:Rhodococcus opacus and P. fluorescens were identified as two potential microbial candidates for the conversion/consumption of base-catalyzed depolymerized lignin, acting on low- and high-molecular weight lignin fragments, respectively. These findings will be of relevance for designing bioconversion of softwood Kraft lignin.
Project description:Background:Valorization of lignin has the potential to significantly improve the economics of lignocellulosic biorefineries. However, its complex structure makes conversion to useful products elusive. One promising approach is depolymerization of lignin and subsequent bioconversion of breakdown products into value-added compounds. Optimizing transport of these depolymerization products into one or more organism(s) for biological conversion is important to maximize carbon utilization and minimize toxicity. Current methods assess internalization of depolymerization products indirectly-for example, growth on, or toxicity of, a substrate. Furthermore, no method has been shown to provide visualization of depolymerization products in individual cells. Results:We applied mass spectrometry to provide direct measurements of relative internalized concentrations of several lignin depolymerization compounds and single-cell microscopy methods to visualize cell-to-cell differences in internalized amounts of two lignin depolymerization compounds. We characterized internalization of 4-hydroxybenzoic acid, vanillic acid, p-coumaric acid, syringic acid, and the model dimer guaiacylglycerol-beta-guaiacyl ether (GGE) in the lignolytic organisms Phanerochaete chrysosporium and Enterobacter lignolyticus and in the non-lignolytic but genetically tractable organisms Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Escherichia coli. The results show varying degrees of internalization in all organisms for all the tested compounds, including the model dimer, GGE. Phanerochaete chrysosporium internalizes all compounds in non-lignolytic and lignolytic conditions at comparable levels, indicating that the transporters for these compounds are not specific to the lignolytic secondary metabolic system. Single-cell microscopy shows that internalization of vanillic acid and 4-hydroxybenzoic acid analogs varies greatly among individual fungal and bacterial cells in a given population. Glucose starvation and chemical inhibition of ATP hydrolysis during internalization significantly reduced the internalized amount of vanillic acid in bacteria. Conclusions:Mass spectrometry and single-cell microscopy methods were developed to establish a toolset for providing direct measurement and visualization of relative internal concentrations of mono- and di-aryl compounds in microbes. Utilizing these methods, we observed broad variation in intracellular concentration between organisms and within populations and this may have important consequences for the efficiency and productivity of an industrial process for bioconversion. Subsequent application of this toolset will be useful in identifying and characterizing specific transporters for lignin-derived mono- and di-aryl compounds.
Project description:In this study, a simple formulation of softwood-derived glycol lignin (GL)-based epoxy resin with a high GL content of greater than 50 wt % was demonstrated by direct mixing with poly(ethylene glycol) diglycidyl ether (PEGDGE), an aliphatic epoxide, without using any solvent. Because the GL powder produced from poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG400) solvolysis of Japanese cedar softwood meal was a PEG400-modified lignin (GL400), a strong affinity between PEG counterparts facilitates the uniform mixing of GL400 with PEGDGE, and one component uncured GL400/PEGDGE epoxy resin was prepared at a relatively lower temperature (100 °C) than the curing temperature (130 °C). The epoxy curing reaction was monitored by 1H NMR and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopies. The physical and mechanical properties of the epoxy resins with different GL400 contents were then evaluated. The developed resins exhibited good flexibility and elasticity depending on the GL400 content.
Project description:A ruthenium-catalyzed, redox neutral C-O bond cleavage of 2-aryloxy-1-arylethanols was developed that yields cleavage products in 62-98% isolated yield. This reaction is applicable to breaking the key ethereal bond found in lignin-related polymers. The bond transformation proceeds by a tandem dehydrogenation/reductive ether cleavage. Initial mechanistic investigations indicate that the ether cleavage is most likely an organometallic C-O activation. A catalytic depolymerization of a lignin-related polymer quantitatively yields the corresponding monomer with no added reagent.
Project description:Selective hydrogenolysis of the Caryl-O bonds in lignin is a key strategy for the generation of fuels and chemical feedstocks from biomass. Currently, hydrogenolysis has been mainly conducted using hydrogen, which is flammable and not sustainable or economical. Herein, an external hydrogen-free process for aryl ethers hydrogenolysis in lignin models and dioxasolv lignin over nickel nanoparticles supported on Al2O3, is reported. Kinetic studies reveal that the transfer hydrogenolysis activity of the three model compounds decreased in the following order: benzyl phenyl ether (α-O-4), 2-phenylethyl phenyl ether (β-O-4) and diphenyl ether (4-O-5), which linearly corresponds to their binding energies and the activation energies. The main reaction route for the three model compounds was the cleavage of the ether bonds to produce aromatic alkanes and phenol, and the latter was further reduced to cyclohexanol. Dioxasolv lignin depolymerization results exhibit a significant Caryl-O decrease over the Ni nanoparticles supported on Al2O3 with iso-propanol as the hydrogen source through 2D-HSQC-NMR analysis, which confirmed the transfer hydrogenolysis conclusion in the model study. This work provides an economical and environmentally-friendly method for the selective cleavage of lignin and lignin model compounds into value-added chemicals.
Project description:We have investigated the production of benzyl alcohols and bioaromatics via the reductive lignin depolymerization process over Fe/H-style ultrastable Y (HUSY), Ni/HUSY, and Ni-Fe/HUSY catalysts using HCOOK/ETOH in air. Synergy effect between HCOOK and the catalysts improved the depolymerization process, resulting in a higher bio-oil recovery. HCOOK does not act solely as an in situ hydrogen source; it also interacts with lignin to enable its initial depolymerization via a base-catalyzed mechanism to low-molecular-weight fragments, and in tandem with the catalyst, the hydrogenolysis rate of the depolymerized lignin monomers was enhanced. Fe/HUSY displayed an excellent activity for the catalytic reductive step in contrast to Ni/HUSY and Ni-Fe/HUSY by facilitating methoxy group removal via hydrogenolysis, thereby contributing to the yield and stabilization of the low-molecular-weight aromatics [diethyl ether (DEE)-soluble products]. Fe/HUSY gave the highest DEE product yield of >99 wt % and a total benzyl alcohol yield of 16 wt % with a total selectivity of 47 wt % (60 wt % for aromatic alcohols). Fe/HUSY was reused for the lignin depolymerization reaction without much loss of its initial activity, giving 13 wt % yield of benzyl alcohols with a selectivity of 58 wt % (77 wt % for aromatic alcohols).