Oxidative Cleavage of C–C Bonds in Lignin

Joseph Samec presents a new way to oxidatively cleave C–C bonds in lignin.

Lignin – which is second only to cellulose as the most abundant organic material on earth – is a complex water-insoluble polymer, composed largely of phenylpropane units which are generally linked through ether bonds (predominantly the aryl-aryl ether-type). Lignin is present mostly in plants’ cell walls, representing a key constituent in the support tissues of all terrestrial plants. Industrially, the conversion of cellulose and hemicellulose into fuels and chemicals leaves lignin as a byproduct. To date, relatively few uses have been found for lignin, other than as a fuel. Professor Joseph S. M. Samec from Stockholm University (Sweden) has a longstanding interest in lignin chemistry, within the group’s broader research interests in green chemistry and biomass conversion.

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