Phenolization of hardwood sulfuric acid lignin and comparison of the behavior of the syringyl and guaiacyl units in lignin

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To study the behavior of hardwood sulfuric acid lignin (SAL) during phenolization, we compared the product yield, average molecular weight, methoxy content, and reactions of simple model compounds with those of softwood SAL, focusing on the difference between syringyl and guaiacyl units. The beech SAL reacted with phenol more readily than red pine SAL and yielded a larger soluble fraction of phenolized SAL. To investigate the difference in the phenolization activity of the syringyl and guaiacyl units in beech lignin, we prepared syringyl-nucleus-rich sulfuric acid lignin (S-rich-SAL) and guaiacyl-nucleus-rich sulfuric acid lignin (G-rich-SAL) from beech, which were subjected to phenolization. The results suggest that the syringyl unit in SAL had greater phenolization activity and its phenolized products were more soluble in acidic aqueous medium and introduced less phenol than the guaiacyl unit. Using model compounds, the study also showed that the syringyl unit had higher phenolization reactivity than the guaiacyl unit.

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