Catalytic transfer hydrogenolysis of organosolv lignin using B-containing FeNi alloyed catalysts
Regmi, Y. N., J. K. Mann, J. R. McBride, J. Tao, C. E. Barnes, N. Labbe, and S. C. Chmely.  2017.  Catalysis Today, DOI: 10.1016/j.cattod.2017.05.051.

Abstract:
In this work, FeB, NiB, and FeNiB nanomaterials were examined as catalysts for catalytic transfer hydrogenolysis (CTH) using supercritical ethanol (sc-EtOH) as the hydrogen donor and reaction solvent. The earth-abundant alloys were synthesized using simple aqueous chemical reductions and characterized using ICP-OES, XRD, and STEM-EDS. Using acetophenone to model the desired catalytic reactivity, FeNiB was identified as having superior reactivity (74% conversion) and selectivity for complete deoxygenation to ethylbenzene (84%) when compared to the monometallic materials. Given its high reactivity and selectivity for deoxygenation over ring saturation, FeNiB was screened as a lignin valorization catalyst. FeNiB mediates deoxygenation of aliphatic hydroxyl and carbonyls in organosolv lignin via CTH in sc-EtOH. A combination of gel permeation chromatography, GC/MS, and NMR spectroscopy was used to demonstrate the production of a slate of monomeric phenols with intact deoxygenated aliphatic side chains. In total, these results highlight the utility of CTH for the valorization of biorefinery-relevant lignin using an inexpensive, earth-abundant catalyst material and a green solvent system that can be directly derived from the polysaccharide fraction of lignocellulosic biomass.