Understanding the Nanoscale Correlation between Morpho-chemical, Mechanical and OpticAL Properties of Plant Cell Walls Toward Biofuel Applications

Project acronym: NORMAL-PCW

Topics: biofuel, lignin, wood properties

Disciplinary fields: energy, nanosciences, chemistry, optics, nanometrology, physics

Summary: Delignification process of wood sheets is largely investigated in the field of paper and biofuel industrial production. In this project the focus is on the biofuel application, where fungi are used to degrade the lignin to separate it from the cellulose. Indeed lignin is a complex organic polymer, largely present in plants, that prevents the efficient extraction of sugars from the cell walls that is required for large scale biofuel production (for example lignocellulosic biomass converted into bioethanol). When talking about efficient biofuel conversion, one has to consider efficient lining degradation, cellulose saccharification and ethanol -fermentation. Because lignin removal is crucial in overcoming the biofuel challenge, the question of how the mechanical and optical properties of the plant cell ultrastructure correlate with delignification processes is important. In this project, the first investigation focuses on the morphological, chemical, mechanical and optical properties of wood sheets constraint to biotic or abiotic stresses directly acting on the tree/branch growth. In a second step, the same constrained wood sheets undergoes delignification process induced by a series of chemical treatments. Each delignification steps is followed using nanometrology and optics and a comparison with unconstrained wood sheet is drawn.

The objective is to obtain a global picture of the wood properties throughout the delignification process, by correlating the morphological and chemical properties with the mechanical and optical properties.

Project Interlocutor: Anne Charrier, CINaM (UMR 7325)

Project duration: 04/01/2018 – 03/31/2021

Call for application: Émergence et Innovation 2016

Photography credits: Photography by Joel & Jasmin Førestbird on Unsplash, License

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