Single-molecular insights into the breakpoint of cellulose nanofibers assembly during saccharification

Plant cellulose microfibrils are increasingly employed to produce functional nanofibers and nanocrystals for biomaterials, but their catalytic formation and conversion mechanisms remain elusive. Here, we characterize length-reduced cellulose nanofibers assembly in situ accounting for the high density of amorphous cellulose regions in the natural rice fragile culm 16 (Osfc16) mutant defective in cellulose biosynthesis using both classic and advanced atomic force microscopy (AFM) techniques equipped with a single-molecular recognition system. By employing individual types of cellulases, we observe efficient enzymatic catalysis modes in the mutant, due to amorphous and inner-broken cellulose chains elevated as breakpoints for initiating and completing cellulose hydrolyses into higher-yield fermentable sugars. Furthermore, effective chemical catalysis mode is examined in vitro for cellulose nanofibers conversion into nanocrystals with reduced dimensions. Our study addresses how plant cellulose substrates are digestible and convertible, revealing a strategy for precise engineering of cellulose substrates toward cost-effective biofuels and high-quality bioproducts.

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Biomass explained

Using biomass for energy has positive and negative effects
Biomass and biofuels made from biomass are alternative energy sources to fossil fuels—coal, petroleum, and natural gas. Burning either fossil fuels or biomass releases carbon dioxide (CO2), a greenhouse gas. However, the plants that are the source of biomass for energy capture almost the same amount of CO2 through photosynthesis while growing as is released when biomass is burned, which can make biomass a carbon-neutral energy source.1

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Our Power System

TVA’s power portfolio is dynamic and adaptable in the face of changing demands and regulations. Our emphasis has moved away from traditional coal-based production and toward cleaner forms of power generation, and today the power we deliver is nearly 60 percent carbon-free.

So that we remain responsive to the Valley's electricity demand on hot summer and cold winter days, we're adding more cleaner-burning natural gas units. To generate more carbon-free power, we’ve added the 21st century’s first new nuclear unit. As always, we generate clean, renewable power with our 29 hydroelectric dams. We have plans underway to build TVA's first utility-scale solar site and have contracted for more than a thousand megawatts of solar to help customers meet their renewable goals.

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TVA Renewables

Sunlight shining down from 93 million miles away. Wind blowing across a grassy plain. Methane gas seeping from decaying matter. These sources of abundant, fossil-free energy form a small but growing part of the power mix as TVA embraces renewables as a part of its vision to provide low-cost, cleaner energy for the future.

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Programs for Students

We invite children ages 4–8 to join an NREL staff member on the first and third Monday of each month from noon to 2 p.m. as they read a story and provide a related activity. Sign up for a virtual Stories and STEM program (via Zoom), or we will travel up to 30 miles from NREL to deliver an in-person program.

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DOE ramps up spending for offshore wind transmission

The Energy Department announced what it said are new investments in its bid to secure U.S. leadership in floating offshore wind development by advancing offshore wind transmission planning, research and technology, and partnerships.

DOE said that two-thirds of U.S. offshore wind resource are located in deep-water areas that require floating platforms. It said its latest actions are intended to support the goals of its Floating Offshore Wind Shot to reduce the cost of floating offshore wind energy by more than 70% by 2035 and deploy 15 GW of floating offshore wind by 2035.

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How to rescue biofuels from a sustainable dead end

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is squeezing global oil supplies and inflation is jacking up prices at the pumps. Although petrol prices have started to fall in recent months, the situation has delivered a powerful reminder of the world’s dependence on fossil fuels.

It also means biofuels are having a moment. The corn-ethanol industry boasts that blending its product into petrol is saving consumers money and creating jobs in the farming communities that supply its distilleries.

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