Lignocellulose, the main component of agricultural and forestry waste, harbours tremendous potential as a renewable starting material for future biorefinery practices. However, this potential remains largely unexploited due to the lack of strategies that derive substantial value from its main constituents. Here, we present a catalytic strategy that is able to transform lignocellulose to a range of attractive products. At the centre of our approach is the flexible use of a non-precious metal catalyst in two distinct stages of a lignocellulose conversion process that enables integrated catalyst recycling through full conversion of all process residues. From the lignin, pharmaceutical and polymer building blocks are obtained. Notably, among these pathways are systematic chemo-catalytic methodologies to yield amines from lignin. The (hemi)cellulose-derived aliphatic alcohols are transformed to alkanes, achieving excellent total carbon utilization. This work will inspire the development of fully sustainable and economically viable biorefineries.
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K.B. is grateful for financial support from the European Research Council, ERC Starting Grant 2015 (CatASus) 638076. This work is part of the research programme Talent Scheme (Vidi) with project number 723.015.005 (K.B.), which is partly financed by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). Z.S. is grateful for financial support from the China Scholarship Council (grant number 201406060027). B.F. is grateful for the financial support from the Hungarian Ministry of Human Capacities (NTP-NFTÖ-17-B-0593).
Supplementary Figures 1–93, Supplementary Tables 1–21, Supplementary Notes 1–14, Supplementary Methods, Supplementary References.
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Nature Catalysis (2018)