Lignin accounts for approximately 25-35 % of the organic matrix of wood and lignocellulosic biomass in itself is the most abundant renewable material on the planet. It has long been recognized as a potential feedstock for producing chemicals, fuels, and materials. Despite this excellent availabilty of lignin it is a low value compound and has so far mainly been used as energy source in combustion applications. Less than 5 % are being processed for other purposes. This article discusses the potential for an increased use of lignin as a renewable raw material, possible conversion routes towards monomeric phenolic compounds, and applications for these products. A brief overview about present state-of-the-art is given and a high-yielding, one-step approach of producing alkylated phenolic compounds from lignin is presented.
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