Journal article Open Access

Imidazolium-Based Ionic Liquids as Efficient Reagents for the C–O Bond Cleavage of Lignin

Marina Thierry; Amel Majira; Bruce Pégot; Laurent Cezard; Flavien Bourdreux; Gilles Clément; Dr. François Perreau; Stéphanie Boutet‐Mercey; Patrick Diter; Giang Vo‐Thanh; Catherine Lapierre; Paul‐Henri Ducrot; Emmanuel Magnier; Stéphanie Baumberger; Betty Cottyn

The demethylation of lignin in ionic liquids (ILs) was investigated by using pure lignin model monomers and dimers together with dioxane‐isolated lignins from poplar, miscanthus, and maize. Different methylimidazolium ILs were compared and the samples were treated with two different heating processes: microwave irradiation and conventional heating in a sealed tube. The conversion yield and influence of the treatment on the lignin structure were assessed by 31P NMR spectroscopy, size‐exclusion chromatography, and thioacidolysis. The acidic methylimidazolium IL [HMIM]Br was shown to be an effective combination of solvent and reagent for the demethylation and depolymerization of lignin. The relatively mild reaction conditions, the clean work‐up, and the ability to reuse the IL makes the described procedure an attractive and new green method for the conversion of lignin to produce phenol‐rich lignin oligomers.

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