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Lignocellulose biomass article featured on
cover of ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces

Scientists in Chemistry’s Physical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy group have deveoped a novel method for incorporating nanoparticles into lignocellulosic biomass.

SAGE mission to VenusTheir work is published in a research article entitled, Ionic Liquid Pretreatment of Poplar Wood at Room Temperature: Swelling and Incorporation of Nanoparticlesin the Journal of ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces. It is the featured cover art of the August 25th, 2010 edition of the journal.

Lignocellulosic biomass offers economic and environmental advantages over corn starch for biofuels production. However, its fractionation currently requires energy-intensive pretreatments, due to the lignin chemical resistance and complex cell wall structure. Recently, ionic liquids have been used to dissolve biomass at high temperatures. In the study described in the article, thin sections of poplar wood were swollen by ionic liquid  pretreatment at room temperature. The samples contract when rinsed with deionized water. The controlled expansion and contraction of the wood structure can be used to incorporate enzymes and catalysts deep into the wood structure for improved pretreatments and accelerated cellulose hydrolysis. In addition to improved pretreatments, the incorporation of materials and chemicals into wood and paper products enables isotope tracing, development of new sensing, and imaging capabilities. For more about this technology, see  Volume 2, Issue 8, pp. 2198–2205 (http://pubs.acs.org/toc/aamick/2/8) of the journal.

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