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Official Journal of the Japan Wood Research Society

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Reaction behavior of lignin in supercritical methanol as studied with lignin model compounds


 The reaction behavior and kinetics of lignin model compounds were studied in supercritical methanol with a batch-type supercritical biomass conversion system. Guaiacol, veratrole, 2,6-dimethoxyphenol, and 1,2,3-trimethoxybenzene were used as model compounds for aromatic rings in lignin. In addition, 5-5, β-1, β-O-4, and α-O-4 types of dimeric lignin model compounds were used as representatives of linkages in lignin. As a result, aromatic rings and 5-5 (biphenyl)-type structures were stable in supercritical methanol, and the β-1 linkage was not cleaved in the β-1-type structure but converted rapidly to stilbene. On the other hand, β-ether and α-ether linkages of β-O-4 and α-O-4 lignin model compounds were cleaved rapidly, and these compounds decomposed to some monomeric compounds. Phenolic compounds were found to be more reactive than nonphenolic compounds. These results indicate that cleavages of ether linkages mainly contribute to the depolymerization of lignin, whereas condensed linkages such as the 5-5 and β-1 types are not cleaved in supercritical methanol. Therefore, it is suggested that the supercritical methanol treatment effectively depolymerizes lignin into the lower-molecular-weight products as a methanol-soluble portion mainly by cleavage of the β-ether structure, which is the dominant linkage in lignin.

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Correspondence to S. Saka.

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Received: December 19, 2001 / Accepted: April 30, 2002

Acknowledgments This research has been done under the research program for the development of technologies for establishing an ecosystem based on recycling in rural villages for the twenty-first century from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Japan; by a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (B)(2) (no.12460144, 2001.4–2003.3) from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Japan; and under the research program from Kansai Research Foundation for Technology Promotion, Japan. The authors thank them for their financial support.

This study was presented in part at the 45th Lignin Symposium, Ehime, Japan, October 2000 and the 52nd Annual Meeting of the Japan Wood Research Society, Gifu, Japan, April 2002

Correspondence to:S. Saka

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Minami, E., Kawamoto, H. & Saka, S. Reaction behavior of lignin in supercritical methanol as studied with lignin model compounds. J Wood Sci 49, 158–165 (2003).

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