Authors: Feng Cheng, Geoffrey Tompsett, Brent Scheidemantle, Charles Cai, Klaus Schmidt-Rohr, Ronish Shrestha
Advisors: Michael Timko
Lignin is a natural aromatic biomacromolecule that exists as the second most abundant polymer. Its phenolic structure makes it a potential renewable source for organic compounds, especially those containing electron rich aromatic rings. However, valorizing lignin has presented a huge challenge owing to its recalcitrant nature. Co-solvent enhanced lignocellulosic fractionation (CELF) is an advanced biomass pretreatment technique that gives us a clean lignin byproduct. Depolymerizing CELF lignin via hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL), which is a green wet-based thermochemical conversion technique, produces aromatic hydrocarbon-rich biocrude or phenolic monomer chemicals. Hardwood derived CELF lignin yields approximately 52wt% of biocrude with valuable monomers like guaiacol, syringol, creosol, butylated hydroxytoluene, etc. Further processing and upgrading of biocrude could lead to production of usable biofuels.