ACS Omega. 2022 Aug 16;7(34):30241-30249. doi: 10.1021/acsomega.2c03381. eCollection 2022 Aug 30.
To assess contribution of the radicals formed from biomass burning, our recent findings toward the formation of resonantly stabilized persistent radicals from hydrolytic lignin pyrolysis in a metal-free environment are presented in detail. Such radicals have particularly been identified during fast pyrolysis of lignin dispersed into the gas phase in a flow reactor. The trapped radicals were analyzed by X-band electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) and high-frequency (HF) EPR spectroscopy. To conceptualize available data, the metal-free biogenic bulky stable radicals with extended conjugated backbones are suggested to categorize as a new type of metal-free environmentally persistent free radicals (EPFRs) (bio-EPFRs). They can be originated not only from lignin/biomass pyrolysis but also during various thermal processes in combustion reactors and media, including tobacco smoke, anthropogenic sources and wildfires (forest/bushfires), and so on. The persistency of bio-EPFRs from lignin gas-phase pyrolysis was outlined with the evaluated lifetime of two groups of radicals being 33 and 143 h, respectively. The experimental results from pyrolysis of coniferyl alcohol as a model compound of lignin in the same fast flow reactor, along with our detailed potential energy surface analyses using high-level DFT and ab initio methods toward decomposition of a few other model compounds reported earlier, provide a mechanistic view on the formation of C- and O-centered radicals during lignin gas-phase pyrolysis. The preliminary measurements using HF-EPR spectroscopy also support the existence of O-centered radicals in the radical mixtures from pyrolysis of lignin possessing a high g value (2.0048).