Power-to-chemicals: Low-temperature plasma for lignin depolymerisation in ethanol


Lignin valorisation into renewable fuels and platform chemicals is desirable but still encounters major challenges due to lignin’s recalcitrant structure, and the lack of cost-, energy-, and material efficient conversion processes. Herein, we report a low-temperature plasma-based route to lignin depolymerisation at mild conditions. The discharge over ethanol surface locally creating a high-energy and reactive environment rich in free electrons, energetic H radicals, and other reactive species, is well suited for lignin depolymerisation. Furthermore, assisted with a Fenton reaction (by adding Fe2O3 and H2O2) to sustain a more oxidative environment, the lignin conversion yield increases from 42.6% to 66.0%. Thus-obtained renewable chemicals are rich in aromatics and dicarboxylic acid derivatives. The proposed strategy on intensifying reactive chemistry by high-power plasmas enables an effective power-to-chemicals conversion of lignin and may provide useful guidelines for modern biorefineries.

Authors: Rusen Zhou, Renwu Zhou, Sen Wang, U G Mihiri Ekanayake, Zhi Fang, Patrick J Cullen, Kateryna Bazaka, Kostya Ken Ostrikov
; Full Source: Bioresource technology 2020 Jul 29;123917. doi: 10.1016/j.biortech.2020.123917.