Biotech Updates

Study Offers Insight on Converting Wood to Bio-Oil

January 9, 2013

Scientists from North Carolina University reported molecular-level insights on how cellulose breaks down in wood to create bio-oils which can be further refined to be used as liquid transportation fuels. Chemical and biomolecular engineer Dr. Philip Westmoreland and colleagues used a supercomputer to calculate the happenings at the molecular level when wood is exposed to high temperatures in the absence of oxygen, a decomposition process referred to as pyrolysis.

The calculations in the paper show that although the decomposition products and rates differ in glucose and cellulose, the various elementary steps appear to be the same, but altered in their relative importance to each other," Westmoreland says. The results showing the details of the decomposition process will help scientists find ways on extracting energy from various wood types.

For more details about the study, visit