The present invention provides novel and improved processes for treating a lignocellulosic biomass or technical lignin using ionic liquids to obtain lignin breakdown products and polysaccharide biomass components. Recycling of ionic liquids can be included in the methods of the invention.
STATEMENT AS TO RIGHTS TO INVENTIONS MADE UNDER FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
 The invention described and claimed herein was made utilizing funds supplied by the U.S. Department of Energy under Contract No. DE-AC02-05CH11231. The government has certain rights in this invention.