Yuan-Zong Lai | Chemical Engineering | SUNY-ESF
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e s f home link - e s f college of environmental science and forestry

Yuan-Zong LaiProfessor Emeritus

Yuan-Zong Lai

428 Walters Hall
1 Forestry Drive
Syracuse, NY 13210


Research Interests

  • Chemistry of lignin in wood and pulps
  • Chemical processing of wood
  • Chemistry of pulping and bleaching
  • Fractionation of wood polymers
  • Lignin reactivity and utilization


  • PSE 351 Pulping and Bleaching Laboratory
  • ERE 670 Principle of Pulping and Bleaching


  • Ph.D., Wood Chemistry, 1968, University of Washington
  • M.S., Organic Chemistry,1967, University of Washington
  • M.S., Wood chemistry, 1966, University of Washington
  • B.S., Forestry, 1963, National Taiwan University, Taiwan

Professional Experience

  • 2008-present Professor at SUNY-ESF
  • 1981-2008 Senior Research Associate at SUNY-ESF
  • 1978-1981 Associate Professor at Michigan Technological University
  • 1975-1978 Assistant Professor at Michigan Technological University
  • 1973-1975 Senior Research Associate at University of Montana
  • 1970-1973 Research Associate at University of Montana
  • 1968-1970 Post-doctoral Fellow at University of Washington

Professional Activities

  • American Chemical Society (since 1974)
  • Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry (TAPPI) (since 1967)
  • Fellow of International Academy of Wood Science
  • Served as Secretary (1988-1990), Vice-Chair (1990-1992), and Chair (1992-1994) of TAPPI Wood Chemistry Committee
  • Editorial Board of the Journal of Wood Chemistry and Technology (since 1996)

Selected Publications

Wood Chemistry (Book Chapter)

  • Lai, Y.-Z., "Chemical Degradation" in Wood and Cellulose Chemistry - Second edition, revised and expanded (Hon, David N.-S. and Shiraishi, N., eds.), Marcel Dekker, Inc., 2001, 443-512.
  • Lai, Y.-Z., "Reactivity and Accessibility of Cellulose, Hemicelluloses, and Lignins", in Chemical Modification of Lignocellulosic Materials (Hon, David N.-S ed.) Marcel Dekker, 1995, 35-95).
  • Lai, Y.-Z., "Determination of Phenolic Hydroxyl Groups" in Methods in Lignin Chemistry, (Dence, C. W. and Lin, S. Y. eds.), Springer-Verlag, 1992, 423-434.
  • Lai, Y.-Z., Funaoka, M., and Chen, H.-T., “Chemical Heterogeneity in Wood Lignin” in Advances in Lignocellulosics Characterization (Dimitris S. Argyropoulos, ed.) TAPPI Press, 1999, 43-53.
  • Lai, Y.-Z. and Sarkanen, K. V., "Isolation and Structural Studies", in Lignin (ed. by Sarkanen, K.V., and Ludwig, C.), Interscience Publishers, John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 1971, 165-240.

Structures of Lignin in Wood

  • Guo, X.-P., Lai, Y.-Z., “On the variation of acid-labile aryl ether unit contents in wood lignin” Holzforschung, 62:527-529 (2008).
  • Ohtani, Y. and Lai, Y.-Z., “On the Determination of b-Aryl Ether Units in Wood Lignin by an Ozonation Method” J. Wood Chem. Technol. 23: 293-303 (2003).
  • Chen, H.-T., Funaoka, M., and Lai, Y.-Z., “Attempts to Understand the Nature of Phenolic and Etherified Components of Wood Lignin”, Wood Sci. Technol., 31: 433 (1997).
  • Lai, Y.-Z. and Guo X.-P., "The Effect of Wood Species in Sulfonation", Holzforschung, 46 (6): 477-480 (1992).
  • Lai, Y.-Z. and Guo, X.-P., "Acid-Catalyzed Hydrolysis of Aryl Ether Linkages in Wood. 1. Estimation of Non-Cyclic -Aryl Ether Units", Holzforschung, 46: 311-314 (1992).
  • Lai, Y.-Z., Guo, X.-P., and Situ, W., "Estimation of Phenolic Hydroxyl Groups in Wood by a Periodate Oxidation Method", J. Wood Chem. Technol., 10 (3): 365 (1990).

Chemistry of Pulping and Oxygen Delignification

  • Shin, S.-L, Schroeder, L. R., and Lai, Y.-Z., “Understanding Contributing Factors to a Low Oxygen Delignification for Hardwood Kraft Pulps”, J. Wood. Chem. Technol. 26: 5-20 (2006).
  • Shin, S.-L, Schroeder, L. R., and Lai, Y.-Z., “Impact of Extractives on Lignin Determination in Kraft Pulps”, J. Wood Chem. Technol. 24: 139-151 (2004).
  • Ko, C.-H. and Lai, Y.-Z., "Impacts of Aryl-Ether Cleavages in Alkaline Delignification of Softwood", J. Wood Chem. Technol., 21: 53-56 (2001).
  • (Book Chapter) Lai, Y.-Z., Xu, H., and Yang, R., “An Overview of Chemical Degradation Methods for Determining Lignin Condensed Units”, in “Lignins: Historical, Biological, and Materials Perspectives” (eds. Glasser, W. G., Northey, R. A., and Schultz, T. P.), ACS Symp. Ser. 742: 239-249 (2000).
  • Chen, H.-T., Funaoka, M., and Lai, Y.-Z., “Characteristics of Bagasse Lignin in Situ and in Delignification” Holzforschung, 52: 635-639 (1998).
  • Chen, H.-T., Funaoka, M., and Lai, Y.-Z., "The Influence of Anthraquinone in Sulfite Delignification of Norway Spruce. 2. Phenolic Hydroxyl Group Formation", Holzforschung, 48 (Suppl.): 140 (1994).
  • Lai, Y.-Z., Funaoka, M., and Chen, H.-T., “Oxygen Bleaching of Kraft Pulps. 1. Role of Condensed Units”, Holzforschung, 48(4):355 (1994).
  • Lai, Y.-Z., and Mun, S.-P., "The Chemical Aspects of Acidic Delignification Processes. 1. Role of Aryl-Ether Hydrolysis in Aspen", Holzforschung, 48: 203 (1994).
  • Lai, Y.-Z., and Situ, W. "Effects of Chemical Treatments on Ultra-High-Yield Pulping. VI. The Relative Effects of Lignin Oxidation and Sulfonation", J. Wood Chem. Technol., 12 (2): 165-178 (1992).
  • He, P. and Lai, Y.-Z., "Influence of Sulfite on the Effectiveness of Anthraquinone in Soda Pulping", Tappi, 66 (12): 89 (1986).

Alkaline Degradation of Polysaccharides

  • Lai, Y.-Z. and Czerkies, A. R., “Effects of Base concentration on the degradation of Wood components”, J. Appl. Poly. Sci., 37: 943 (1983).
  • Lai, Y.-Z. and Otto, D. E., "Kinetics of Base-Catalyzed Degradation of Phenyl D-Glucopyranosides", Carbohyd. Res., 75: 51 (1979).
  • Lai, Y.-Z. and Otto, D. E., "Effects of Alkalinity on Endwise Depolymerization of Hydrocellulose", J. Appl. Poly. Sci., 23: 3219 (1979).
  • Lai, Y.-Z., "Kinetic Evidence of Anionic Intermediates in the Methyl D-Glucopyranosides", Carbohyd. Res., 24: 57 (1972).
  • Lai, Y.-Z. and Sarkanen, K. V., "Kinetic Study of the Alkaline Degradation of Amylose", J. Poly. Sci., Part C 28: 15 (1969).

Thermal Degradation of Carbohydrate Substrates

  • Shafizadeh, F., Lai, Y.-Z., anf McIntyre, C. R., Thermal Degradation of 6-Chloro cellulose and Cellulose-Zinc Chloride Mixture”, J. Appl. Poly. Sci., 22:1183 (1978).
  • Shafizadeh, F. and Lai, Y.-Z., “Alkaline Thermolysis of Phenyl a- and b-D-Glucopyranosides”, Caarbohyd. Res., 26:83 (1973).
  • Shafizadeh, F. and Lai, Y.-Z., "Thermal Degradation of 1,6-Anhydro b-D-Glucopyranose", J. Org. Chem. 37: 278 (1972).