At present, the imminent threat of a climate crisis is looming on us. It has thus become crucial to develop efficient fuels alternative to fossil fuels. The use of clean sources of fuels called biofuel is one option, which can be produced from natural sources such as biomass. Meanwhile, the plant-based polymer cellulose most abundantly available form of biomass globally and can be converted into raw materials xylose and glucose for the production of bioethanol.
However, the process is challenging due to the rigid and dense structure of the molecule, which makes it insoluble in water. Biotechnologists and chemists have used traditional techniques such as microwave radiation, ultrasonication, hydrolysis to degrade this polymer. Nonetheless, the requirement of extreme conditions make these processes unsustainable.
To this end, a new technique for cellulose degradation is developed by a team of researchers. The findings of the research is published in Energy & Fuels. The technique for cellulose degradation was based on a type of laser called infrared-free electron laser. The wavelength of infrared-free electron laser is tunable in the range of 3 to 20 μm. This new method is a promising one for zero-emission degradation of cellulose.
Infrared-free Electron Laser features Unique Ability to Modify Structure of Substances
The ability to impel a multiphoton absorption for a molecule and alter the structure of a substance is a unique feature of infrared-free electron laser. So far, cellulose degradation technology has been used in chemistry, physics, and medicine, but the objective is to augment advances in environmental technology.
And, scientists knew that infrared-free electron laser could be used to conduct dissociation reactions on various biomolecules. Meanwhile, cellulose is a biopolymer synthesized of oxygen, carbon, and hydrogen molecules, which makes covalent bonds that vary from each other in terms of lengths and angles.