Microscopy — Biomass close-up

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Credit: Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Oak Ridge National Laboratory scientists created an approach to get a better look at plant cell wall characteristics at high resolution as they create more efficient, less costly methods to deconstruct biomass. By combining spectroscopy and emerging microscopy techniques, the team measured the nanoscale mechanical and chemical effects of pretreatments used to improve the breakdown of lignin, a woody component in plants. Data from the new methods can guide researchers as they develop plants with less lignin and "encourages our work in improved modified plants and pretreatments that supports a path to easier biomass-to-biofuel conversion processes," said Brian Davison of ORNL's BioEnergy Science Center. The project is detailed in Scientific Reports.

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