American Chemical Society
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Thermal Mobility of β-O-4-Type Artificial Lignin

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journal contribution
posted on 2012-03-12, 00:00 authored by Yasumitsu Uraki, Yusuke Sugiyama, Keiichi Koda, Satoshi Kubo, Takao Kishimoto, John F. Kadla
Several lignin model polymers and their derivatives comprised exclusively of β-O-4 or 8-O-4′ interunitary linkages were synthesized to better understand the relation between the thermal mobility of lignin, in particular, thermal fusibility and its chemical structure; an area of critical importance with respect to the biorefining of woody biomass and the future forest products industry. The phenylethane (C6–C2)-type lignin model (polymer 1) exhibited thermal fusibility, transforming into the rubbery/liquid phase upon exposure to increasing temperature, whereas the phenylpropane (C6–C3)-type model (polymer 2) did not, forming a char at higher temperature. However, modifying the Cγ or 9-carbon in polymer 2 to the corresponding ethyl ester or acetate derivative imparted thermal fusibility into this previously infusible polymer. FT-IR analyses confirmed differences in hydrogen bonding between the two model lignins. Both polymers had weak intramolecular hydrogen bonds, but polymer 2 exhibited stronger intermolecular hydrogen bonding involving the Cγ-hydroxyl group. This intermolecular interaction is responsible for suppressing the thermal mobility of the C6–C3-type model, resulting in the observed infusibility and charring at high temperatures. In fact, the Cγ-hydroxyl group and the corresponding intermolecular hydrogen bonding interactions likely play a dominant role in the infusibility of most native lignins.