Acta Phys. -Chim. Sin. ›› 2022, Vol. 38 ›› Issue (10): 2203016.doi: 10.3866/PKU.WHXB202203016

Special Issue: Catalytic Conversion of Biomass

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Activation/Cleavage of C―O/C―C Bonds during Biomass Conversion

Hao Zhou, Yaxuan Jing(), Yanqin Wang()   

  • Received:2022-03-10 Accepted:2022-04-11 Published:2022-04-13
  • Contact: Yaxuan Jing,Yanqin Wang;
  • About author:Yanqin Wang, Email: (Y.W.)
    Yaxuan Jing, Email: (Y.J.)
  • Supported by:
    the National Natural Science Foundation of China(21832002);the National Natural Science Foundation of China(21808063);the National Natural Science Foundation of China(21808043);the National Natural Science Foundation of China(21872050);the National Natural Science Foundation of China(22003016);the National Natural Science Foundation of China(92145302);the National Natural Science Foundation of China(22102056);the China Postdoctoral Science Foundation(2021M691011);the China Postdoctoral Science Foundation(2021TQ0106);Shanghai Super Postdoctoral Fellow, and the Science and Technology Commission of Shanghai Municipality(10dz2220500)


Sustainable fuels and chemicals are receiving unprecedented attention worldwide in the context of achieving global carbon neutrality. Biomass, as the only natural and sustainable carbon-based source, shows great potential in addressing our current environmental/energy problems and in creating a carbon-neutral society. Lignocellulosic biomass is made up of basic structural units containing C―O/C―C bonds, and the catalytic cleavage of these C―O/C―C bonds is the key for biomass valorization; thus, garnering considerable attention in the past decade. This viewpoint begins with a brief report on the current status of catalytic activation/cleavage of C―O/C―C bonds during biomass conversion, and then goes on to discuss the key challenges experienced and possible strategies that can be implemented using cooperative catalysis. Our goal is not to provide a comprehensive overview of the activation/cleavage of the C―O/C―C bonds in biomass, but rather to highlight the core questions and challenges related to this process and the requirements for future investigations. We selected several representative C―O/C―C bonds in carbohydrates and lignin to discuss their catalytic mechanism in terms of total/selective bond cleavage, and then present our own insights for future studies. Therefore, this article mainly discusses the following two aspects: (1) The activation and cleavage of C―O bonds, which includes total and selective C―O bond cleavage in furan-based fuel precursors and lignin. When aiming to produce liquid fuels, including alkanes and arenes from biomass, the total cleavage of C―O bonds is essential. During the hydrodeoxygenation (HDO) of furan-based fuel precursors, various C―O bonds need to be cleaved, especially the C―O bond of each tetrahydrofuran ring, which has the highest bond energy. When compared with the total HDO of fuel precursors, the removal of the phenolic hydroxyl groups in lignin to produce arenes is more challenging because of the competition between the over-hydrogenation of the benzene rings and the cleavage of phenolic C―O bonds. The selective or partial cleavage of C―O/C―C bonds to form highly functionalized chemicals has recently attracted great interest and is believed to be a dynamic future research avenue. For example, the production of phenol from lignin or lignin-model compounds, through the selective removal of methoxy groups and para-side-chain groups, while preserving the phenolic hydroxyl groups, has been extensively explored in the past few years. (2) The other important aspect of this article is the cleavage of the C―C bonds in carbohydrates and lignin. The cleavage of carbohydrate C―C bonds occurs via retro-aldol condensation, which produces propylene glycol, ethylene glycol, ethanol, and lactic acid. The cleavage of C―C bonds in lignin is challenging because the bond energy of the C―C bonds is generally higher than that of the C―O bonds in lignin. Therefore, in this section, we discuss the cleavage of the strongest 5―5' bond in lignin. Finally, some subjective perspectives and future directions are provided, also highlighting several major challenges in this field.

Key words: Biomass, Catalytic conversion, C―O bond, C―C bond, Cleavage mechanism


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