Harnessing solar energy for electrocatalytic biorefinery using lignin-derived photothermal materials

Xinpeng Zhao, Lei Shi, Bing Tian, Shujun Li, Shouxin Liu, Jian Li, Song Liu, Tony D. James, Zhijun Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (SciVal)


The bio-refinery of lignocellulose exhibits great potential for sustainable development. However, technical barriers for proper utilization of lignin and heavy energy consumption have challenged the profitability and sustainability of such biorefineries. Here, we efficiently converted lignin to photothermal materials (D-Lig-Fe) by the demethylation of lignin and coordinating with Fe3+, producing electricity that could be utilized for the electrocatalytic conversion of 5-hydromethyl-2-furaldehyde (HMF) to 2,5-furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA) when coupled with a thermoelectric generator (TEG) in the bio-refinery. Specifically, D-Lig-Fe exhibited robust and high photothermal efficiency (∼36%), producing electricity up to 1.6 V upon natural solar irradiation assisted by a Fresnel lens together with TEG. The as-generated electricity drove a high-yielding conversion of HMF to FDCA via NiCoB catalyst-based electrocatalysis in the bio-refinery. We anticipate that this research will help establish an efficient and practical approach toward an integrated biorefinery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12308-12314
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Materials Chemistry A
Issue number23
Early online date31 May 2023
Publication statusPublished - 31 May 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (32171716, 31890774 (Z. C.)), the Natural Science Funding of Heilong Jiang province for Excellent Young Scholar (YQ2020C017 (Z. C.)), and The Open Research Fund of the School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Henan Normal University (2020ZD01 (T. J.)).

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • General Materials Science


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