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What is cellulose used for?

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Quick Answer

Cellulose ethanol is used to make a biofuel. It is not used as a food source even though it comes from plant sources.

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Cellulose is grown all around the world. It is the fiber that is found in the stems, stalks and leaves of trees and plants. The ethanol that comes from it is an alternative source of biofuel. It is a superior source because it's expected to be energy efficient and less expensive than the ethanol from other sources. This is because it can be made out of the less expensive feedstocks, including wheat straw, rice straw, sawdust, forest thinning and grasses. Perennial grasses and switchgrass are particularly good sources for the ethanol.

The fungus Trichoderma reesei may be used to break the cellulose down into fermentable sugars for this purpose. The guts of termites are another viable option for this process as termites break down woody biomass to create sugars. Acid is something else that can be used to convert the cellulose to gas and then into biofuel. It is possible to convert the cellulose to sugars at a low cost. For this reason, many commercial applications are being planned at the moment. A U.S. ethanol producer named Broin plans to turn one of its corn-to-ethanol plants into a biorefinery for stover and corn grain.

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