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.

136. Background

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.

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Last modified 27 October 2005.
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