Analyzing cellulose degree of polymerization and its relevancy to cellulosic ethanol



The degree of polymerization (DP) of cellulose in cellulosic biomass and how it changes during enzymatic and chemical transformations has remained a fundamental property of interest to numerous researchers. Currently, with increased interest in cellulosic biofuels, more attention is being focused on determining changes in cellulose DP before and during pre-treatment, as well as the effect of DP on enzymatic deconstruction of cellulose to glucose. Different sources of celluloses from woody and non-woody biomass have been isolated and the DP has been frequently examined as a key parameter contributing to efficient biomass deconstruction. The isolation and derivatization/dissolution of cellulose are crucial steps in determining cellulose DP. This review summarizes approaches to measuring DP developed over the past six decades and highlights opportunities for further improvements. © 2011 Society of Chemical Industry and John Wiley & Sons, Ltd