Multiscale Deconstruction of Molecular Architecture in Corn Stover

Hideyo Inouye, Yan Zhang, Lin Yang, Nagarajan Venugopalan, Robert F. Fischetti, S. Charlotte Gleber, Stefan Vogt, W. Fowle, Bryan Makowski, Melvin Tucker, Peter Ciesielski, Bryon Donohoe, James Matthews, Michael E. Himmel, Lee Makowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus Citations


Lignocellulosic composite in corn stover is a candidate biofuel feedstock of substantial abundance and sustainability. Its utilization is hampered by resistance of constituent cellulose fibrils to deconstruction. Here we use multi-scale studies of pretreated corn stover to elucidate the molecular mechanism of deconstruction and investigate the basis of recalcitrance. Dilute acid pretreatment has modest impact on fibrillar bundles at 0.1 micron length scales while leading to significant disorientation of individual fibrils. It disintegrates many fibrils into monomeric cellulose chains or small side-by-side aggregates. Residual crystalline fibrils lose amorphous surface material, change twist and where still cross-linked, coil around one another. Yields from enzymatic digestion are largely due to hydrolysis of individual cellulose chains and fragments generated during pretreatments. Fibrils that remain intact after pretreatment display substantial resistance to enzymatic digestion. Optimization of yield will require strategies that maximize generation of fragments and minimize preservation of intact cellulosic fibrils.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number3756
Number of pages7
JournalScientific Reports
StatePublished - 20 Jan 2014

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5100-61465


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