November 11, 2017  |  U.S. Dept. of Energy, Office of Science

A major bottleneck to producing cost-effective biofuels and many valuable chemicals is breaking down cellulose. Cellulose is an important structural component of plants. Scientists addressed this bottleneck by characterizing those molecular features that make cellulose resistant to degradation. The findings reveal—for the first time—structural differences between surface layers and the crystalline core of the two types of cellulose found in plant cell walls.

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