1990-07-01

Microwave Irradiation of Cellulose and Enzymatic Hydrolysis of Waste Paper for Long Space Missions 901315

A study was made to investigate the potential of microwave pretreatment as a means of enhancing enzymatic hydrolysis of waste paper and other cellulosic wastes generated in the Controlled Ecological Life Support Systems (CELSS) of long-term space missions. The experimental data obtained with high-cellulose paper showed that pretreatment at 383 K for 5 minutes with microwave irradiation resulted in 92 percent cellulose conversion to glucose compared to only 37 percent conversion without the microwave pretreatment. The microwave irradiation appears to collapse the highly crystaline structure of the cellulose matrix as exhibited in photomicrographs. Addition of acetic acid during the same process reduced significantly the enzymatic action.

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