ORNL neutrons, simulations reveal details of bioenergy barrier
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., June 15, 2011 — A first of its kind combination of experiment and simulation at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory is providing a close-up look at the molecule that complicates next-generation biofuels.
Lignin, a major component of plant cell walls, aggregates to form clumps, which cause problems during the production of cellulosic ethanol. The exact shape and structure of the aggregates, however, have remained largely unknown.
A team led by ORNL's Jeremy Smith revealed the surface structure of lignin aggregates down to 1 angstrom—the equivalent of a 10 billionth of a meter or smaller than the width of a carbon atom. The team's findings were published in Physical Review E.
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