Ames Lab researchers working to deconstruct lignin commercially

October 9, 2017 |

In Iowa, researchers at Ames Laboratory are working to reach the goal of deconstructing lignin commercially, experimenting with chemical reactions that decompose lignin models at low temperatures and pressures. There are already known ways of salvaging useful byproducts out of lignin through the addition of a stabilization process. But they took both the decomposition and stabilization processes further, by combining the two into one multi-functional catalyst, using phosphate-modified ceria.

In another experiment, the team was able to process a related material, phenol, into useful industrial precursors for nylon production. This work used a catalyst made of ceria and palladium doped with sodium, which increased the reactivity of the process significantly. They also eliminated the use of hydrogen, which is produced from steam-treatment of natural gas, and used an energy-conserving alcohol-based hydrogenation process instead.

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Category: Research

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