Catalytic Lignin Deploymerization

view profile for Blake Simmons

Blake Simmons

Chief Science & Technology Officer and Vice President for Deconstruction

view profile for Hemant Choudhary

Hemant Choudhary

Deputy Director of Catalytic Lignin Depolymerization

view profile for Yinglei Han

Yinglei Han

Post Doctoral Researcher

view profile for Dhirendra  Mishra

Dhirendra Mishra

Postdoctoral Researcher

view profile for Muskan  Sonker

Muskan Sonker

Doctoral Student

The efficient utilization of lignin, the direct source of renewable aromatics, into value-added renewable chemicals is an important step towards sustainable biorefinery practices. Nevertheless, owing to the random heterogeneous structure and limited solubility, lignin utilization has been primarily limited to burning for energy. The catalytic depolymerization of lignin has been proposed and demonstrated as a viable route to sustainable biorefinery, however, low yields and poor selectivity of products, high char formation, poor bioavailability of intermediates/products, and limited to no recycling of transition-metal-based catalyst involved in lignin depolymerization demands attention to enable practical-scale lignocellulosic biorefineries.

The Catalytic Lignin Deploymerization team focuses on developing solutions to above mentioned issues through a) robust catalyst design and development, b) understanding lignin depolymerization over catalytic sites for controlled product profile, c) implementation of computation tools to understand lignin chemistry, and finally tuning lignin depolymerization into bioavailable molecules. 


  • Development of robust reductive and oxidative catalytic pathways for efficient lignin depolymerization
  • Develop abiotic routes to depolymerize lignin present in bioenergy crops into targeted bioavailable intermediates with at least 90% yields
  • Implementation of chemical-biological hybrid depolymerization process for maximum carbon utilization
  • Development of integrated catalytic depolymerization and separation of monomeric lignin molecules
  • Understanding of structure-activity relationships between catalytically active sites and lignin depolymerization activity through advanced characterization
  • Understanding of lignin depolymerization routes with computational tools 
  • Generation of high-quality polymeric lignin and their thorough characterization
  • Implementation of catalytic methods including product analysis to assist other JBEI divisions including LEAD, Feedstocks, Deconstruction, and Biofuels and Bioproducts

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