Highly efficient fractionation of corn stover into lignin monomers and cellulose-rich pulp over H2WO4

Zewei Ma, Saravanan Saravanan Kasipandi, Zhe Wen, Linhao Yu, Kai Cui, Hong Chen, Yongdan Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
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In this work, we investigated the fractionation of raw biomass based on a “lignin first” biorefinery strategy that enables the fractionation of corn stover into a stable lignin oil and a cellulose-rich pulp. Lignin fraction was completely disassembled into monomers with a yield of 25.1 wt% in methanol with a H2WO4 catalyst at 200 °C for 6 h. Higher temperature (≥220 °C) and longer reaction time (≥6 h) were in favor of higher delignification and hemicellulose removal, but led to lower cellulose retention and lignin monomer yield. Particle size of corn stover has minor impact on the delignification but significant for hemicellulose removal. A two-step mechanism is proposed for the fractionation of corn stover, in which ether and ester bonds between lignin and hemicellulose cleave to form oligomers through methanol solvolysis first, while the depolymerization of lignin oligomers to methyl hydroxycinnamates, e.g. methyl p-coumarate and methyl ferulate, as the major products happens in the catalytic steps.
Original languageEnglish
Article number119731
Number of pages11
JournalApplied Catalysis B: Environmental
Early online date25 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - 5 May 2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • corn stover
  • delignification
  • lignin first
  • tungstic acid
  • biomass retention


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