April 30, 2009
Secret to cellulose's resilience
a computer model of the hydrogen bonds within and between cellulose
molecules and you're a step closer to cheap biofuel.
The model reveals one of the reasons cellulose is so difficult
to break down: its hydrogen bonds rearrange themselves as the temperature
changes. The shiftiness allows cellulose to remain stable across a
wide range of temperatures.
The adaptable nature of cellulose's hydrogen bonds also means
that they're not ever in the strongest configuration possible, however.
This makes it possible to use enzymes and temperatures to affordably
break down the molecules. The trick is finding the right combination.
The degree of difficulty of breaking cellulose down correlates
to the cost of making biofuel from biomass; the simpler the process
the cheaper the biofuel.
of Cellulose: A Statistical Perspective from a Coarse-Grained Model
of Hydrogen-Bond Networks
Biophysical Journal, April 22, 2009
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