May 5, 2009

NSF funds cellulose study

The National Science Foundation has funded a project to study the molecular structure of cellulose in order to develop efficient ways of converting cellulosic biomass to ethanol.

The $300,000 award to Texas Tech University's Rajesh Khare and colleagues will enable them to develop molecular simulations and carry out atomic force microscope experiments.

The aim of the project is to understand how cellulose fragments stick to whole cellulose molecules during the first stage in the process of breaking down cellulosic biomass. When the fragments stick to the cellulose molecules the molecules become harder to break down.

Efficient ways of breaking down cellulose are critical to making cellulosic ethanol commercially viable.

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