Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New Aspen Could Revolutionize Pulp And Paper Industry

Date:
July 29, 1999
Source:
Michigan Technological University
Summary:
Researchers at Michigan Tech have genetically engineered a new breed of 2XL-aspen that could revolutionize pulp and paper production. Their work is featured in the cover story of the August 1999 edition of Nature Biotechnology.

HOUGHTON, MI -- Researchers at Michigan Tech have genetically engineered a new breed of 2XL-aspen that could revolutionize pulp and paper production. Their work is featured in the cover story of the August 1999 edition of Nature Biotechnology.

The research team, led by Professor Vincent Chiang [pronounced "Chang"], has introduced a gene into Populus tremuloides, commonly known as quaking aspen, that cuts the amount of lignin produced by the tree nearly in half. Lignin, a component of all wood, must be chemically separated from cellulose to make the pulp used in paper production. The chemical, energy, and environmental costs of removing lignin have traditionally been enormous.

The transgenic aspen saplings have other advantages to industry that came as a complete surprise to the researchers: They produce up to 15 percent more cellulose. And they are remarkably fast-growing, even for a fast-growing tree like aspen.

Cellulose is the main component of pulp, and in regular aspen, as well as other tree species, the lignin:cellulose ratio is about 1:2. In the genetically engineered aspen, the ratio is roughly 1:4.

This could translate into huge gains for industry. According to Chiang, manufacturers could see an increase of 15 percent more pulp from the same amount of wood. "And the people in pulp mills jump up and down if they have a 1 percent increase," he said. "If you look at the effect this could have on the industry worldwide, we're talking billions of dollars."

In addition, the trees have the added advantage of having essentially the same lignin structure as regular aspen, so the lignin can be removed through existing pulping processes, but using reduced amounts of chemicals and less energy. And so far, they are extremely fast growing, a characteristic sought by tree producers. In the greenhouse, some transgenic aspen are 30 percent taller than the control group.

Chiang can only guess as to why they are growing so fast. For trees, making lignin takes a lot of energy, and he theorizes that the trees somehow transfer the energy saved from lignin production to other areas, such as enhanced growth and cellulose production.

U.S. and international patent applications have been filed on the transgenic aspen, and Michigan Tech is negotiating licensing agreements with a major wood-products corporation.

###

Coauthors of the Nature Biotechnology paper are graduate students Wen-Jing Hu and Juhau Lung, Dr. Scott A. Harding, Dr. Chung-Jui Tsai, and Research Scientist Jacqueline Popko, all of Michigan Tech's School of Forestry and Wood Products; John Ralph, of the University of Wisconsin-Madison; and Douglas D. Stokke, of Iowa State University.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Michigan Technological University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Michigan Technological University. "New Aspen Could Revolutionize Pulp And Paper Industry." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 July 1999. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/07/990729074236.htm>.
Michigan Technological University. (1999, July 29). New Aspen Could Revolutionize Pulp And Paper Industry. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/07/990729074236.htm
Michigan Technological University. "New Aspen Could Revolutionize Pulp And Paper Industry." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/07/990729074236.htm (accessed October 22, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Cadaver Dogs Aid Search for More Victims of Suspected Indiana Serial Killer

Cadaver Dogs Aid Search for More Victims of Suspected Indiana Serial Killer

Reuters - US Online Video (Oct. 21, 2014) Police in Gary, Indiana are using cadaver dogs to search for more victims after a suspected serial killer confessed to killing at least seven women. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
White Lion Cubs Unveiled to the Public

White Lion Cubs Unveiled to the Public

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 21, 2014) Visitors to Belgrade zoo meet a pair of three-week-old lion cubs for the first time. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

AP (Oct. 21, 2014) Where's a body buried? Buster's nose can often tell you. He's a cadaver dog, specially trained to find human remains and increasingly being used by law enforcement and accepted in courts. These dogs are helping solve even decades-old mysteries. (Oct. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) Two white lion cubs, an extremely rare subspecies of the African lion, were recently born at Belgrade Zoo. They are being bottle fed by zoo keepers after they were rejected by their mother after birth. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins