Canadian Biomass Magazine

Engineered softwood could transform biofuel industry

April 22, 2015
By Andrew Macklin

April 22, 2015 – A U.S.-led research team has discovered that a process that would engineer softwoods to contain lignin found in hardwoods could transform the pulp and paper and biofuel industries.

The research, led by John Ralph of the Great Lakes Bioenergy Center (GLBRC), used a model called the tracheary element (TE) system to determine that it is possible to engineer softwood with the monomers contained in hardwood.

The S-monomers found in hardwoods, such as birch and poplar, make an easier-to-breakdown form of lignin. Meanwhile, the G-monomers found in softwoods, such as pine and spruce, form a lignin that is more difficult to degrade.

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