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Posted: Aug 29, 2012
Biomass characterization technology
(Nanowerk News) Biomass recalcitrance--the problem of how to break down complex plant-based cellulosic feedstock into sugars that can be fermented to produce sustainable biofuels and other renewable biobased productsócan be overcome through improved methods of biomass characterization. IB IN-DEPTH, a collection of articles from leading research laboratories describing advanced tools and techniques for analyzing the chemistry, structure, and interaction of biomass components, is published in Industrial Biotechnology, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. The articles are available free online at the Industrial Biotechnology website.
The future capability to commercialize large-scale, economical, plant-based biofuels and bioproducts depends on the development of efficient and effective strategies to break down lignocellulosic biomass and to release the carbohydrates that can then be converted into these valuable end-products. Substantial progress is being made in solving the problems of biomass recalcitrance, and Guest Editor Brian Davison, PhD, Chief Scientist for Systems Biology and Biotechnology at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN, and Science Coordinator for the BioEnergy Science Center of the Department of Energy's Office of Biological and Environmental Research, and a member of the Editorial Board of Industrial Biotechnology, gathered leading researchers to share their work and perspectives.
The special research section includes two Reviews: "Biomass Characterization: Recent Progress in Understanding Biomass Recalcitrance" by Marcus Foston and Arthur Ragauskas, BioEnergy Science Center, School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Institute of Paper Science and Technology, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA; and "Neutron Technologies for Bioenergy Research" by Paul Langan and colleagues, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and Georgia Institute of Technology. Also featured are Short Communications and Methods articles that present new or improved methods of biomass characterization, including strategies based on biomass accessibility to enzymes, glycomics, polysaccharide changes in plant cell walls, improvements to the Simon's stain technique, an updated method of mechanical stress testing, and a modification of atomic force microscopy.
"Much thanks to Dr. Brian Davison for pulling together this special issue of Industrial Biotechnology," says Larry Walker, PhD, Co-Editor-in-Chief and Professor, Biological & Environmental Engineering, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY. "The development of methods and approaches for characterizing biomass materials is an important step in driving biotechnology development from plant engineering to subsequent conversion to biofuels and bioproducts."