Fractionation and DOSY NMR as Analytical Tools: From Model Polymers to a Technical Lignin

James R. D. Montgomery, Christopher S. Lancefield, Daniel M. Miles-Barrett, Katrin Ackermann, Bela E. Bode, Nicholas J. Westwood, Tomas Lebl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


One key challenge hindering the valorization of lignin is its structural complexity. Artificial lignin-like materials provide a stepping stone between the simplicity of model compounds and the complexity of lignin. Here, we report an optimized synthesis of an all-G β-O-4 polymer 1 designed to model softwood lignin. After acetylation, the polymer Ac-1(V) was fractionated using a protocol that involved only volatile organic solvents, which left no insoluble residue. Using diffusion ordered spectroscopy NMR in combination with gel permeation chromatography, it was revealed that this fractionated material behaved like a flexible linear polymer in solution (average α > 0.5). Acetylated kraft lignin was subsequently processed using the same fractionation protocol. By comparison with the model polymer, we propose that the acetylated kraft lignin is composed of two classes of materials that exhibit contrasting physical properties. One is comparable to the acetylated all-G β-O-4 polymer Ac-1, and the second has a significantly different macromolecular structure.
Original languageEnglish
JournalACS Omega
Early online date30 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017


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