Using raw lignocellulosic biomass as feedstock for sustainable production of chemicals is of great significance. Herein, we report the direct catalytic conversion of raw woody biomass into two groups of chemicals over a carbon supported Ni-W2C catalyst. The carbohydrate fraction in the woody biomass, i.e., cellulose and hemicellulose, were converted to ethylene glycol and other diols with a total yield of up to 75.6% (based on the amount of cellulose & hemicellulose), while the lignin component was converted selectively into monophenols with a yield of 46.5% (based on lignin). It was found that the chemical compositions and structures of different sources of lignocellulose exerted notable influence on the catalytic activity. The employment of small molecule alcohol as a solvent could increase the yields of phenols due to the high solubilities of lignin and hydrogen. Remarkably, synergistic effect in Ni-W2C/AC existed not only in the conversion of carbohydrate fractions, but also in lignin component degradation. For this reason, the cheap Ni-W2C/AC exhibited competitive activity in comparison with noble metal catalysts for the degradation of the wood lignin. Furthermore, the catalyst could be reused at least three times without the loss of activity. The direct conversion of the untreated lignocellulose drives our technology nearer to large-scale application for cost-efficient production of chemicals from biomass.
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