Depolymerization of Lignin to Produce Monophenols and Oligomers Using a Novel Ni/Ce-CNT Catalyst

Qiaozhi Ma, Qiyu Liu, Xiaomeng Dou, Wenzhi Li, We Fan, Minghou Liu


A novel composite catalyst consisting of nickel, cerium, and carbon nanotube (CNT) was developed for native lignin and industrial lignin depolymerization. It was found that Ni and Ce had synergistic effects on the depolymerization. Native lignin was depolymerized to monophenols with a yield of 21.4% at 300 °C for 2 h under 2 MPa hydrogen pressure with serious coke formation. A milder condition set at 280 °C for 2 h under 2 MPa hydrogen pressure provided a monophenols yield of 13.5% with 78.6% lignin removal, but much less coke formation and better catalyst reusability. Even after running the trial four times, the catalyst presented high efficiency. Industrial lignin was depolymerized to oligomers, which are a series of aromatic micromolecules that could be extracted by specific organic solvents such as ethyl acetate. Those oligomers could be used as high calorific value bio-oil. After being depolymerized at 260 °C for 1 h under 2 MPa hydrogen pressure, the yields of oligomers were 56.0% and 11.6% extracted by ethyl acetate (EA) and petroleum ether (PE), respectively. After recycling four times, the catalyst still exhibited high activity. It was clear that the Ni/Ce-CNT was an effective catalyst in lignin depolymerization.


Native lignin; Industrial lignin; Depolymerization; Compound catalyst; Monophenols; Oligomers

Full Text:


Welcome to BioResources! This online, peer-reviewed journal is devoted to the science and engineering of biomaterials and chemicals from lignocellulosic sources for new end uses and new capabilities. The editors of BioResources would be very happy to assist you during the process of submitting or reviewing articles. Please note that logging in is required in order to submit or review articles. Martin A. Hubbe, (919) 513-3022,; Lucian A. Lucia, (919) 515-7707, URLs:; ISSN: 1930-2126