136. Brown, Jr. R. M. 1989. Advances in
Cellulose Biosynthesis. In: Assessment of Biobased Materials.
Ed. H. C. Chum. SERI/TR-234-3610. U. S. Department of Energy.
Pp. 9-1 to 9-7.
Cellulose is the most abundant biobased
material on earth. It is estimated that 1011 tons
of cellulose are produced and destroyed annually. Cellulose is
a natural polymer of great diversity, and it has been used by
mankind for thousands of years. The need to continue applied
and fundamental research on cellulose structure and biosynthesis
would net seem at first to be so important for after all, we have
developed very efficient methods for harvesting and producing
sufficient quantities of cellulose for present use. However,
we need to consider more than just harvesting trees for wood and
cotton for textiles. The rivalry of natural polymers for petroleum-based
materials is great, but there are compelling reasons why we must
upgrade fundamental research and development on biobased materials.
World competition for producing and using a broad range of natural
polymer systems will increase in the future, and the United States
has not yet prepared itself for this competition. In order to
bring to the forefront the importance of cellulose, my first goal
in this assessment will be to survey the broad diversity of cellulose
products and to indicate the major problems associated with the
use and harvesting of each major source. My second goal will
be to discuss new sources of cellulose with an emphasis on some
of the unique properties of this material . My third goal will
be to suggest future research and development in the field of
cellulose biosynthesis leading to improvement in efficiency of
synthesis and improvement of physical properties. The outcome
of this assessment should provide to the U. S. government important
directions that should be taken to ensure our leadership in this
extremely important field of biotechnology development.