The bark of trees has a big potential as a source of green chemicals. The aim of the present work was to valorise the potential of deciduous tree species with this regard. Three widely spread trees in Europe (grey alder, ash tree, aspen) were in focus as a source of polyphenols, and the yields of polyphenolic compound in the extracts were considered as evaluation criteria. The highest yields of hydrophilic extractives were found in barks of grey alder and aspen (36.8 and 22.9%, respectively). In the former, the highest antioxidant activity was found towards free radicals (DPPH• and ABTS•+) and superoxide anion radical. Open chain diarylheptanoids, mainly oregonin, were identified as the major constituents of the grey alder hydrophilic extract. In addition to oregonin, the presence of 2 linear diarylheptanoids [platyphylloside and 1,7-bis-(3,4-dihydroxyphenyl)-heptane-5-O-β-D-glucopyranoside] was confirmed. For the first time, the compounds 1,7-bis-(3,4-dihydroxyphenyl)-3-hydroxyheptane-5-O-β-D-xylopyranoside and 1,7-bis-(3,4-dihydroxyphenyl)-heptane-3-one-5-O-β-D-glucopyranoside were detected in grey alder bark. The results of experiments in vitro and in vivo have shown the high potential for diarylheptanoids-containing extracts in prophylaxis and/or treatment of diseases due to the metabolic disorders and ageing. The biological activity of grey alder extract was confirmed in in vitro experiments by incubation of human blood samples. In vivo experiments with rats also showed positive results. The conclusion is that grey alder extracts have a high potential for prevention of ageing related pathologies. Besides diarylheptanoids, the bark contains condensed tannins in commercially available quantity (12.5%). Eco-friendly wood adhesives were obtained on a tannins basis. The bark left after polyphenols isolation can be used in soil melioration and as a sorbent for the removal of oil products from water surface. The investigation of the phenolic pool of grey alder could contribute to cluster technologies within the biorefinery-based bark processing.
The oxidative modification of Biolignin (BL) has been investigated to make it more suitable as an adsorbent for transition/heavy metals. BL is a by-product of a wheat straw organosolv process for the production of pulp, ethanol, and pentoses (CIMV S.A. pilot plant, Levallois Perret, France). It was subjected to oxidation by a polyoxometalate (POM) H3[PMo12O40], aiming at the increment of oxygen-containing adsorption-active sites. The POM oxidation of BL was performed under moderate conditions (1 bar, 60–90°C, and 200°C) with the co-oxidants O2 or H2O2. The resulting lignin functionality and structure was evaluated by pyrolysis-gas chromatography/mass spectrometry, solid-state 13C nuclear magnetic resonance, Fourier transform infrared, and chemical analysis. The condensation degree of BL and its COOH and aliphatic OH group contents increased significantly, whereas the polymer structure was maintained. Under optimal conditions with POM/H2O2, the sorption capacity of lignins toward Cd(II) and Pb(II) was increased threefold and twofold, respectively.
The new organosolv process of wheat straw fractionation elaborated by Compagnie Industrielle de la matiere Vegetale (France) corresponds to the biorefinery approach, which allows separating cellulose, hemicelluloses, and lignin. The straw lignin (Biolignin™) is an attractive product, for which new applications are sought. In the present work, straw lignin (L) was converted into liquid lignopolyols via a batch reaction with propylene oxide (PO). The effects of the lignin content (L%) in the initial reaction mixture (L/(L+PO) on the oxypropylation process and the properties of whole lignopolyols and L/PO copolymers were studied. Almost complete disappearance of L-OHphen and L-COOH groups in copolymers was accompanied by an increase in the L-OHaliph groups’ content therein. The polydispersity (Mw/Mn) of all copolymers obtained decreased essentially compared to the reference. The extent of PO grafting onto OH groups increased with decreasing lignin content in the initial reaction mixture. At a lignin content of 15–30% in the initial reaction mixture, the lignopolyols fulfil the requirements of polyol polyethers for rigid polyurethane foam production. The further increase in the lignin content leads to the appearance of the non-liquefied fraction and the undesirable increase in the viscosity of the liquefied part.