First-of-a-kind Tension Wood Study Broadens Biofuels Research
(Physorg.com) Taking a cue from Mother Nature, researchers at the Department of Energy’s BioEnergy Science Center have undertaken a first-of-its-kind study of a naturally occurring phenomenon in trees to spur the development of more efficient bioenergy crops.
Tension wood, which forms naturally in hardwood trees in response to bending stress, is known to possess unique features that render it desirable as a bioenergy feedstock. Although individual elements of tension wood have been studied previously, the BESC team is the first to use a comprehensive suite of techniques to systematically characterize tension wood and link the wood’s properties to sugar release. Plant sugars, known as cellulose, are fermented into alcohol for use as biofuel.
…The work, published in Energy & Environmental Science, describes tension wood properties including an increased number of woody cells, thicker cell walls, more crystalline forms of cellulose and lower lignin levels, all of which are desired in a biofuel crop.
…”Recalcitrance of plants is ultimately a reflection of a series of integrated plant cell walls, components, structures and how they are put together,” said co-author Arthur Ragauskas of Georgia Institute of Technology. “This paper illustrates that you need to use a holistic, integrated approach to study the totality of recalcitrance.” READ MORE Abstract