Multifunctional Cellulolytic Enzymes Outperform Processive Fungal Cellulases for Coproduction of Nanocellulose and Biofuels

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

101 Scopus Citations


Producing fuels, chemicals, and materials from renewable resources to meet societal demands remains an important step in the transition to a sustainable, clean energy economy. The use of cellulolytic enzymes for the production of nanocellulose enables the coproduction of sugars for biofuels production in a format that is largely compatible with the process design employed by modern lignocellulosic (second generation) biorefineries. However, yields of enzymatically produced nanocellulose are typically much lower than those achieved by mineral acid production methods. In this study, we compare the capacity for coproduction of nanocellulose and fermentable sugars using two vastly different cellulase systems: the classical "free enzyme" system of the saprophytic fungus, Trichoderma reesei (T. reesei) and the complexed, multifunctional enzymes produced by the hot springs resident, Caldicellulosiruptor bescii (C. bescii). We demonstrate by comparative digestions that the C. bescii system outperforms the fungal enzyme system in terms of total cellulose conversion, sugar production, and nanocellulose production. In addition, we show by multimodal imaging and dynamic light scattering that the nanocellulose produced by the C. bescii cellulase system is substantially more uniform than that produced by the T. reesei system. These disparities in the yields and characteristics of the nanocellulose produced by these disparate systems can be attributed to the dramatic differences in the mechanisms of action of the dominant enzymes in each system.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)3101-3109
Number of pages9
JournalACS Nano
Issue number3
StatePublished - 28 Mar 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 American Chemical Society.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-2700-68125


  • biofuel
  • cellulase
  • enzymatic hydrolysis
  • multifunctional enzyme
  • nanocellulose


Dive into the research topics of 'Multifunctional Cellulolytic Enzymes Outperform Processive Fungal Cellulases for Coproduction of Nanocellulose and Biofuels'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this