Cellulose: Fascinating Biopolymer and Sustainable Raw Material



As the most important skeletal component in plants, the polysaccharide cellulose is an almost inexhaustible polymeric raw material with fascinating structure and properties. Formed by the repeated connection of D-glucose building blocks, the highly functionalized, linear stiff-chain homopolymer is characterized by its hydrophilicity, chirality, biodegradability, broad chemical modifying capacity, and its formation of versatile semicrystalline fiber morphologies. In view of the considerable increase in interdisciplinary cellulose research and product development over the past decade worldwide, this paper assembles the current knowledge in the structure and chemistry of cellulose, and in the development of innovative cellulose esters and ethers for coatings, films, membranes, building materials, drilling techniques, pharmaceuticals, and foodstuffs. New frontiers, including environmentally friendly cellulose fiber technologies, bacterial cellulose biomaterials, and in-vitro syntheses of cellulose are highlighted together with future aims, strategies, and perspectives of cellulose research and its applications.