JUN 29, 2020 7:16 AM PDT

Infrared-free electron laser facilitates the conversion of cellulose into biofuel

A collaboration of Japanese scientists has used laser technology called infrared-free electron laser (IR-FEL) to facilitate the conversion of cellulose into biofuel. Cellulose is the most abundant form of biomass on the planet and though it can be converted into raw materials such as glucose and xylose for the production of bioethanol, technologies to do so have been limited up until now. 

The Japanese research team includes Dr. Takayasu Kawasaki (Tokyo University of Science), Dr. Heishun Zen (Institute of Advanced Energy, Kyoto University), Professor Yasushi Hayakawa (Laboratory of Electron Beam Research and Application, Institute of Quantum Science, Nihon University), Professor Toshiaki Ohta (SR Center, Ritsumeikan University), and Professor Koichi Tsukiyama (Tokyo University of Science). Their findings were published in Energy & Fuels.

IR-FEL offers a zero-emissions technology for the conversion of cellulose. The laser can be tuned to wavelengths between 3 and 20 μm, which align with the wavelengths of the bonds of cellulose polymers.

Dr. Kawasaki explains, saying, "One of the unique features of the IR-FEL is that it can induce a multiphoton absorption for a molecule and can modify the structure of a substance. So far, this technology has been used in the basic fields of physics, chemistry, and medicine, but we wanted to use it spur advances in environmental technology."

 "This was the first method in the world to efficiently obtain glucose from cellulose by using an IR-FEL. Because this method does not require harsh reaction conditions such as harmful organic solvents, high temperature, and high pressure, it is superior to other conventional methods."

Dr. Kawasaki thinks that this development has implications not only for the conversion of cellulose, but also for other wood constituents that could provide an option for recycling forest biomass. He concludes, "We hope that this study will contribute to the development of an 'oil-free' society."

Photo: Pixabay

In addition to the potential that cellulose holds for biofuels, it can also be utilized in biomaterials such as biocompatible cell membranes, antibacterial sheets, and hybrid paper materials. IR-FEL technology will thus open doors for myriad uses of cellulose in countless industry niches.

Sources: Energy & Fuels, Science Daily

About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
JUN 20, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Scientists identify periodic gamma-ray emissions from 11 active galaxies
JUN 20, 2020
Scientists identify periodic gamma-ray emissions from 11 active galaxies
Research published in The Astrophysical Journal identifies a way to detect periodic gamma-ray emissions from 11 active g ...
JUN 23, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
What is "robotic soft matter"?
JUN 23, 2020
What is "robotic soft matter"?
Research published yesterday in the journal Nature Materials describes the development of “robotic soft matter,&rd ...
JUL 12, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Scientists mimic nacre's strength and resiliency
JUL 12, 2020
Scientists mimic nacre's strength and resiliency
Did you know that mother of pearl - also called nacre - is not only stunningly beautiful but also one of the strongest m ...
AUG 05, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Scientists incorporate tellurium into hydrocarbon structures
AUG 05, 2020
Scientists incorporate tellurium into hydrocarbon structures
Tellurium is not one of the more talked about elements. As a semiconductor with chemical properties alike those of sulfu ...
AUG 07, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Your brain's chemistry with a nondeceptive placebo
AUG 07, 2020
Your brain's chemistry with a nondeceptive placebo
Does the placebo effect work on you? The placebo effect is the idea that your brain chemistry can be altered by the mere ...
AUG 21, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Biorubber glue reduces surgery time and improves pain relief
AUG 21, 2020
Biorubber glue reduces surgery time and improves pain relief
A study published recently in Biomaterials showcases a new development in biomaterials that could forever change th ...
Loading Comments...