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    Author(s): James F. BeecherChristopher G. HuntJunyong Zhu
    Date: 2009
    Source: The nanoscience and technology of renewable biomaterials. West Sussex, UK ; Hoboken, NJ : Wiley, 2009: pages 61-90.
    Publication Series: Miscellaneous Publication
    PDF: Download Publication  (2.93 MB)


    To take advantage of nanoscale features in plant cell walls and create our own nanostructures based on plant biomass, we must make reliable measurements at the nanoscale. Although nanoscale measurement methods have expanded in recent years, not all these techniques are useful for soft, hydrophilic, nonconducting biomass specimens. Here we discuss those methods with the potential to be particularly useful in studying nanoscale properties of plant biomass. In contrast to most engineering materials, plant biomass structure changes with water availability. Water swells biomass, creating pores that transport enzymes and reagents into and out of the cell wall during processing. Therefore we begin with a description of basic interactions of water and biomass. Nanoscale accessibility and reactivity of the cell wall are often critical to bioprocessing, so we discuss several methods of evaluating these properties. This chapter also describes methods to measure cellulose crystallinity, because crystallinity affects properties and crystallites are an interesting material in themselves. Finally the chapter reviews microscopic and spectroscopic methods useful for the study of biomass at the nanoscale.

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    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.


    Beecher, James F.; Hunt, Christopher G.; Zhu, Junyong. 2009. Tools for the characterization of biomass at the nanometer scale. The nanoscience and technology of renewable biomaterials. West Sussex, UK ; Hoboken, NJ : Wiley, 2009: pages 61-90.


    Nanotechnology, microstructure, nanostructured materials, measurement, plant cell walls, testing, technological innovations, biomass, utilization, plant biomass, moisture, biotechnology, cellulose, microscopy, spectroscopy, analytical chemistry, technique, physical measurements

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