Alex Brittain


Social: Linkedin


  • Mechanocatalytic Depolymerization of Lignin

Research Summary

The purpose of this project is to convert a lignin, a typical waste material from biomass conversion, into useful products, such as fuels or intermediates for the production of aromatic chemicals.  In order to accomplish this, lignin requires conversion in a catalytic process.  However, the use of typical aqueous phase processes with water-soluble bases as catalysts result in product mixtures that require energy intensive separations and produce significant amounts of basic waste.  The use of a solid catalyst would allow for far less energy intensive separation from products, but special reaction conditions would have to be applied to enable the progress of the conversion.  Thus, this project will focus on the use of mechanocatalysis in a ball mill to depolymerize lignin.  By designing a cost effective system, the results of this project should enable new revenue streams for biorefineries and pulp and paper mills.



2014 – present Georgia Institute of Technology

PhD in Chemical Engineering


Thesis: Mechanocatalytic Depolymerization of Lignin
Supervisor: Dr. Carsten Sievers
Specialization: Catalysis


2010 – 2014 University of Connecticut
Bachelors of Science: Chemical Engineering


  1. Yingjie Zhou, Alex D. Brittain, Deyuan Kong, Min Xiao, Yuezhong Meng, and Luyi Sun. “Derivatization of diamondoids for functional applications.”Journal of Materials Chemistry C 3.27 (2015): 6947-6961.
  2. Yingjie Zhou, Rongcai Huang, Fuchuan Ding, Alex D. Brittain, Jingjing Liu, Meng Zhang, Min Xiao, Yuezhong Meng, and Luyi Sun. “Sulfonic Acid-Functionalized α-Zirconium Phosphate Single-Layer Nanosheets as a Strong Solid Acid for Heterogeneous Catalysis Applications.” ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces 6.10 (2014): 7417-7425.