The SolvoLig2Chem (solvothermolysis of lignin to chemicals) project deals with development of methods for production of green and sustainable aromatic monomers from extracted lignins (e.g. organosolv and formaldehyde treated lignin) by the means of solvothermolysis, a particularly promising thermochemical conversion technique combining relatively mild reaction conditions (170-250 °C, 1-2 MPa) with high yields of various monomers (e.g. catechols, guaiacols, cresols, alkylphenols, methoxybenzenes). These compounds are high-value products in addition to being the only naturally generated replacement for aromatic monomers used extensively in the chemical industry. The overall aim of this project is to design and test selective solvothermal biphasic depolymerization (SBD) routes by the combination of experimental work, development of innovative analytical techniques, and theoretical studies of the reaction mechanisms. The objectives will be achieved by performing cutting-edge research at Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland, one of the leading research institutes within natural sciences in Europe. By combining a vivid research environment, extensive collaboration, excellent laboratory facilities, state-of-the-art analytical instrumentation, and large scale facilities (e.g. synchrotron radiation at Swiss Light Source, SLS), both the scientific (designing selective depolymerization routes for lignin) as well as the personal (training and development of the researcher leading to a position of scientific maturity) goals of this action will be reached. The potential benefits of the studied conversion technique are nearly unlimited: replacing petroleum as the main source of polymers and materials, promoting sustainable and green development, and mitigating the human impact on the environment and the climate.
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