Volume 94 Issue 11 | p. 10 | Concentrates
Issue Date: March 14, 2016

Nickel catalyst converts tough plant lignin into valuable chemicals

Waste from the grass Miscanthus yields compounds useful in the flavor and fragrance industry
Department: Science & Technology
News Channels: Biological SCENE, Environmental SCENE, Organic SCENE
Keywords: biobased chemicals, lignin, Miscanthus, phenolics, flavors and fragrances, renewables

To make fuels and chemicals from biomass, producers typically use the sugar-containing cellulose components. But first they must remove the surrounding lignin, a hardy phenolic biopolymer that helps support plant structure. Researchers have been looking for viable methods to crack apart the lignin into useful chemical intermediates, with some success coming from using precious-metal catalysts. A new study shows that an inexpensive nickel catalyst can transform 68% of lignin from the grass Miscanthus into aromatic . . .

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