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Scanning Electron Microscopy: (a) Enzyme Hydrolysis Only

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(a) A corn stover particle shows a smooth surface with a few micron-sized pores after enzyme hydrolysis converted 11% of cellulose to glucose in 3 h. (b) This corn stover particle has many more pores. It was pretreated in water at 190°C for 15 min and hydrolyzed by enzymes at 50°C for 3 h, resulting in 40% cellulose conversion to glucose. The results illustrate that pretreatment changes lignocellulosic-structure susceptibility to attack by enzymes. Higher resolution in future imaging techniques will facilitate a deeper understanding of underlying molecular mechanisms.

Credit or Source: Images and conditions from unpublished work of M. Zeng, N. Mosier, C. Huang, D. Sherman, and M. Ladisch, 2006.


U.S. DOE. 2006. Breaking the Biological Barriers to Cellulosic Ethanol: A Joint Research Agenda, DOE/SC/EE-0095, U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science and Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. (p. 88) (website)

Prepared by the Biological and Environmental Research Information System, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and