Materials Science

Tunable Boc Modification of Lignin and Its Impact on Microbial Degradation Rate



A new type of modified lignin, lignin-p-Boc, was obtained through reaction with di-tert-butyl dicarbonate (Boc2O) in aqueous media catalyzed by 4-dimethylaminopyridine (DMAP). Boc modification occurred regardless of type of lignin, was tunable, and proceeded well in recovering lignin at high purity from sodium lignosulfonate (a common byproduct from pulping industry; lignin content: 60%). Lignin-p-BOC was demonstrated as a potential reactive filler in green plastic and as a potential crosslinker in design of bioresorbable composite polymeric implants. Furthermore, the effects of the modification on the breakdown rate of alkali lignin by microbes was investigated, and the results showed that the modification substantially decreases the breakdown rate. The tunable Boc modification process was designed via a system thinking, including availability of raw lignin, economical/green modification, potentiality of drop-in-change to current thermoplastic processing, modification impact on microbial degradability/disposed environment at the end of use life; hence the holistic consideration makes this alternative method for upgrade of technical lignins very practical for future industrial application. Via “in-situ” forming “easily breakable covalent bonds” with existing thermopolymers inside, Lignin-p-BOCs are also promising to play an important role as both excellent binders via “random match” and reductants in transforming linear plastic waste into circular plastics.

Version notes

New version with enriched introduction (p2-3) and a new reaction mechanism (P7) discussion part.


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Supplementary material

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Supporting Information V2