The solubilization and aqueous phase reforming of lignin, including kraft, soda, and alcell lignin along with sugarcane bagasse, at low temperatures (T≤498 K) and pressures (P≤29 bar) is reported for the first time for the production of aromatic chemicals and hydrogen. Analysis of lignin model compounds and the distribution of products obtained during the lignin aqueous phase reforming revealed that lignin was depolymerized through disruption of the abundant βO4 linkages and, to a lesser extent, the 55’ carbon-carbon linkages to form monomeric aromatic compounds. The alkyl chains contained on these monomeric compounds were readily reformed to produce hydrogen and simple aromatic platform chemicals, particularly guaiacol and syringol, with the distribution of each depending on the lignin source. The methoxy groups present on the aromatic rings were subject to hydrolysis to form methanol, which was also readily reformed to produce hydrogen and carbon dioxide. The composition of the isolated yields of monomeric aromatic compounds and overall lignin conversion based on these isolated yields varied from 10–15 % depending on the lignin sample, with the balance consisting of gaseous products and residual solid material. Furthermore, we introduce the use of a high-pressure autoclave with optical windows and an autoclave with ATR-IR sentinel for on-line in situ spectroscopic monitoring of biomass conversion processes, which provides direct insight into, for example, the solubilization process and aqueous phase reforming reaction of lignin.
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