The plant-based polymer cellulose is the most abundant form of biomass globally and can be converted into raw materials such as glucose and xylose for the production of bioethanol (a type of biofuel). But this process is challenging owing to the molecule’s rigid and dense structure, which makes it insoluble in water. Chemists and biotechnologists globally have used conventional techniques like microwave radiation, hydrolysis, and ultrasonication to degrade this polymer, but these processes require extreme conditions and are thus unsustainable.
A new study published in Energy & Fuels, a research team in Japan 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.
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