Scientists from the Department of Energy's Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center have identified a potential pretreatment method that allows enzymes to be up to five times more effective in converting plant biomass into ethanol, according to a report in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. A pretreatment method using ammonia "reduced the strength of hydrogen bonds in the cellulosic network," allowing the cellulose to be more easily processed into sugar by "fungi-derived cellulolytic enzymes," said one of the researchers.

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