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Title: Conformations of low-molecular-weight lignin polymers in water

Low-molecular-weight lignin binds to cellulose during the thermochemical pretreatment of biomass for biofuel production, which prevents the efficient hydrolysis of the cellulose to sugars. The binding properties of lignin are influenced strongly by the conformations it adopts. Here, we use molecular dynamics simulations in aqueous solution to investigate the dependence of the shape of lignin polymers on chain length and temperature. Lignin is found to adopt collapsed conformations in water at 300 and 500 K. However, at 300 K, a discontinuous transition is found in the shape of the polymer as a function of the chain length. Below a critical degree of polymerization, Nc=15, the polymer adopts less spherical conformations than above Nc. The transition disappears at high temperatures (500 K) at which only spherical shapes are adopted. As a result, an implication relevant to cellulosic biofuel production is that lignin will self-aggregate even at high pretreatment temperatures.
 [1] ;  [2]
  1. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
  2. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States); Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN (United States)
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Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 9; Journal Issue: 3; Journal ID: ISSN 1864-5631
ChemPubSoc Europe
Research Org:
Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
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Country of Publication:
United States
09 BIOMASS FUELS; aggregation; biomass; confirmation analysis; molecular dynamics; polyamphiphiles