A blog from University of Borås

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Biomass recalcitrance

It is now 3 decades that we have global intensive research on converting lignocelluloses to different value-added products such as ethanol and butanol. There are now hundreds of thousands of publications and patents on these subjects, but still, we don't have any large scale commercial plant. One of the major problems of this subject is the recalcitrance and complexity of the biomass, which make it unaccessible to enzymes and microorganisms. The nature designed this material to stay long, but we want to degrade it quickly. We are tackling with this problem in 15 years now, and still, a long way to go! We have recently had "Biomass Recalcitrance" as a PhD course, and know that the understanding of this complexity need much more research!

(Our current understanding of the cell wall structure. The pictures were adopted from a very good book on this subject)


  1. I do not know how much the solution which briefly is described in “Plant Polysaccharides book” is promising. The authors in chapter 15 of book have pointed out that it can be possible to grow transgenic self-processing plants that can degrade their own cell wall but in a controlled manner by expressing of hydrolytic enzymes that are inactive and stored and can be released after harvest either by physical or by thermal activation of the enzymes (Post harvest approach).

  2. This can be nice too:
    Mutated Plants May Be Better for Biofuels