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Integrating the Production of Nanofibrillated Cellulose and Biofuels

Snapshot : FPL researchers have demonstrated a method of integrating the production of cellulose nanofibers and biofuels. Such a strategy is expected to improve the economics and reduce the financial risks associated with producing nanocellulose and biofuels from forest-based materials.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Sabo, Ronald C. 
Research Station : Forest Products Laboratory (FPL)
Year : 2011
Highlight ID : 304

Summary

FPL researchers have demonstrated a method of integrating the production of cellulose nanofibers and biofuels. When converting woody biomass to biofuel, one challenge is the recalcitrance of plant biomass, or the inability to efficiently convert cellulose to glucose. Significant past research efforts in cellulosic biofuels have focused on overcoming this challenge, but now researchers are looking at the process in a new light. The new approach is to convert the recalcitrant cellulose into nanofibrillated cellulose as a co-product of biofuels production. Such a strategy is expected to improve the economics and reduce the financial risks associated with producing nanocellulose and biofuels from forest-based materials. Research to characterize the product streams and optimize their properties and processing conditions is ongoing. Currently, researchers are characterizing the sugar and cellulose streams for their viability to produce biofuels and nanofibrillated cellulose reinforcements for polymer composites.