Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Study fuels insight into conversion of wood to bio-oil

Date:
December 14, 2012
Source:
North Carolina State University
Summary:
New research provides molecular-level insights into how cellulose -- the most common organic compound on Earth and the main structural component of plant cell walls -- breaks down in wood to create "bio-oils" which can be refined into any number of useful products, including liquid transportation fuels to power a car or an airplane.

A paper that offers insight into converting wood to useful bio-oils appears as the cover article in the Journal of Physical Chemistry A.
Credit: Phillip Westmoreland

New research from North Carolina State University provides molecular-level insights into how cellulose -- the most common organic compound on Earth and the main structural component of plant cell walls -- breaks down in wood to create "bio-oils" which can be refined into any number of useful products, including liquid transportation fuels to power a car or an airplane.

Using a supercomputer that can perform functions thousands of times faster than a standard desktop computer, NC State chemical and biomolecular engineer Dr. Phillip Westmoreland and doctoral student Vikram Seshadri calculate what's occurring at the molecular level when wood is rapidly heated to high temperatures in the absence of oxygen, a decomposition process known as pyrolysis.

The results, which could help spur more effective and efficient ways of converting farmed and waste wood into useful bio-oils, appear in a feature article on the cover of the Dec. 13 print edition of the Journal of Physical Chemistry A.

Much of the energy that can be extracted from wood exists in the cellulose found in cell walls. Cellulose is a stiff, rodlike substance consisting of chains of a specific type of a simple sugar called glucose. The paper describes a mechanism for how glucose decomposes when heated. The mechanism is somewhat surprising, Westmoreland says, because it reveals how water molecules and even the glucose itself can trigger this decomposition.

"The calculations in the paper show that although the decomposition products and rates differ in glucose and cellulose, the various elementary steps appear to be the same, but altered in their relative importance to each other," Westmoreland says.

Knowing the specifics of the decomposition process will allow researchers to make predictions about the ease of extracting energy from different types of wood from various soil types.

The researchers are now conducting experiments to verify their calculations.

The research was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. The computations were performed on Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center computers.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Vikram Seshadri, Phillip R. Westmoreland. Concerted Reactions and Mechanism of Glucose Pyrolysis and Implications for Cellulose Kinetics. The Journal of Physical Chemistry A, 2012; 116 (49): 11997 DOI: 10.1021/jp3085099

Cite This Page:

North Carolina State University. "Study fuels insight into conversion of wood to bio-oil." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 December 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121214112654.htm>.
North Carolina State University. (2012, December 14). Study fuels insight into conversion of wood to bio-oil. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121214112654.htm
North Carolina State University. "Study fuels insight into conversion of wood to bio-oil." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121214112654.htm (accessed August 21, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Flower Power! Dandelions Make Car Tires?

Flower Power! Dandelions Make Car Tires?

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 20, 2014) Forget rolling on rubber, could car drivers soon be traveling on tires made from dandelions? Teams of scientists are racing to breed a type of the yellow flower whose taproot has a milky fluid with tire-grade rubber particles in it. As Joanna Partridge reports, global tire makers are investing millions in research into a new tire source. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Awesome New Camouflage Sheet Was Inspired By Octopus Skin

Awesome New Camouflage Sheet Was Inspired By Octopus Skin

Newsy (Aug. 19, 2014) Scientists have developed a new device that mimics the way octopuses blend in with their surroundings to hide from dangerous predators. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

AP (Aug. 19, 2014) Four Texas high school football programs are trying out an experimental system designed to diagnose concussions on the field. The technology is in response to growing concern over head trauma in America's most watched sport. (Aug. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Green Power Blooms as Japan Unveils 'hydrangea Solar Cell'

Green Power Blooms as Japan Unveils 'hydrangea Solar Cell'

AFP (Aug. 19, 2014) A solar cell that resembles a flower is offering a new take on green energy in Japan, where one scientist is searching for renewables that look good. Duration: 01:29 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:
from the past week

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