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Engineered softwood could transform industry

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.

April 22, 2015  By  Andrew Macklin

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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