Japanese researchers develop novel technique for cellulose degradation

June 23, 2020 |

In Japan, in a new study published in Energy & Fuels, researchers led by the Tokyo University of Science developed a novel technique for cellulose degradation. This technique was based on a type of laser called the infrared-free electron laser (IR-FEL), whose wavelength is tunable in the range of 3 to 20 μm. This new method is a promising green technology for the zero-emission degradation of cellulose.

The scientists knew that IR-FEL could be used to perform dissociation reactions on various biomolecules. Cellulose is a biopolymer composed of carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen molecules, which form covalent bonds of varying lengths and angles with each other. The polymer has three infrared bands at the wavelengths of 9.1, 7.2, and 3.5 μm, which correspond to three different bonds: the C?O stretching mode, H?C?O bending mode, and C?H stretching mode, respectively. Based on this, the scientists irradiated powdered cellulose by tuning the wavelength of the IR-FEL to these three wavelengths. Then, they analyzed the products using techniques such as electrospray ionization mass spectrometry and synchrotron radiation infrared microscopy, which revealed that the cellulose molecules had successfully decomposed into glucose and cellobiose (precursor molecules for bioethanol production).

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Category: Research

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