For the Scientist in You
The article discusses the use of mechanocatalysis as an eco-friendly method for breaking down and utilizing biomass.
The study uses ball milling to demonstrate the hydrogenolysis of benzyl phenyl ether, a model lignin ether, over supported nickel catalysts at room temperature and atmospheric hydrogen pressure.
The reaction network is similar to solution-based reactions, and the primary products are toluene, phenol, and cyclohexanol.
Mechanical energy during milling drives the chemical reactions and activates the nickel by exposing fresh metallic surfaces, replacing a thermal activation step.
The hydrogenolysis rate is not sensitive to the final nickel particle size, but reactivity of the oxide support can be enhanced during milling, contributing to carbon deposition.
The research proves that reductive mechanocatalysis can be used to mildly depolymerize lignin.