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In Situ Reactor-Integrated Electrospray Ionization Mass Spectrometry for Heterogeneous Catalytic Reactions and Its Application in the Process Analysis of High-Pressure Liquid-Phase Lignin Depolymerization

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journal contribution
posted on 2021-09-14, 16:38 authored by Cunhao Cui, Xiamin Chen, Chunjiang Liu, Yanan Zhu, Linyu Zhu, Jianfeng Ouyang, Yang Shen, Zhongyue Zhou, Fei Qi
Process analysis of heterogeneous catalytic reactions such as lignin depolymerization is essential to understand the reaction mechanism at the molecular level, but it is always challenging due to harsh conditions. Herein, we report an operando process analysis strategy by combining a microbatch reactor with high-resolution mass spectrometry (MS) via a reactor-integrated electrospray ionization (R-ESI) technique. R-ESI-MS expands the applications of traditional in situ MS to a heterogeneous and high-pressure liquid-phase system. With this strategy, we present the evolution of a series of monomers, dimers, and oligomers during lignin depolymerization under operando conditions (methanol solvent, 260 °C, ∼8 MPa), which is the first experimental elucidation of a progressive depolymerization pathway and evidence of repolymerization of active monomers. The proposed R-ESI-MS is crucial in probing depolymerization intermediates of lignin; it also provides a flexible strategy for process analysis of heterogeneous catalytic reactions under operando conditions.