Cellulose is the principal substance in the plant cell walls, helping plants to stay stiff and upright. Humans aren’t able to digest it. However, it’s an important element in the diet as fiber. Cellulose is employed in many products: cellophane, food additives, chronic wound treatment, biodegradable packaging.

What is cellulose?

Cellulose molecule
Cellulose molecule.
Image source:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cellulose

Celluloseis a substance present in the plant cell walls. It is a molecule, consisting of manycarbon, hydrogen and oxygenatoms. It is the most abundant organic macromolecule(biopolymer)on Earth. Scientists first examined cellulose in1833. The chemical structure of cellulose is similar to that ofstarch, but cellulose is very rigid. Thisrigiditygives great strength to the plant body and shields the interiors of plant cells. Cellulose is a多糖(or carbohydrate) and has minimal environmental, health and safety risks so it is considered a“green” material.

Structure of cellulose

It is made of at least500 glucose molecules chain. Many of these polysaccharide chains are organised in parallel orders to formmicrofibrils. The singular polysaccharide chains are joined together in the microfibrils byhydrogen bonds(strong bonds). The structure of cellulose microfibrils is scientifically calledcrystalline.This means that the microfibrils have crystal-like properties. Thematrixis composed of polysaccharides and proteins. One of the matrix polysaccharides in cell walls ispectin,which becomes a gel-like substance when heated. Pectin is used in the making of jellies and jams. Some types of plants own asecondary cell wallplaced over the primary one. The secondary cell wall is composed of a polysaccharide calledlignin.

Cellulose forms

Cellulose doesn’t change its molecular structure regardless of the source (wood pulp, cotton, or other vegetable matter). However, based on how the molecules are bonded together and the hydration state, it creates different kinds of cellulose.

  • Powdered celluloseis mostly used in food products and for anti-caking applications.
  • Cellulose gumorgel, hydrated forms of cellulose, are often used in sauces or other wet food like ice cream and frozen yoghurt.

Cellulose may be present on ingredient lists under the names carboxymethylcellulose, microcrystalline cellulose, or MCC.



Cellulose is employed in many products:cellophane,artificial tears,food additives,chronic wound treatment, andfiller materialin drug tablets. Moreover, cellulose can be processed at industrial scale amounts and at low costs (e.g.木质纤维素sare a byproduct of the paper industry, and celluloses are a potential byproduct of thecellulose-to-biofuels business). Even if cellulose can be found in most plant material, the cheapest sources of industrial cellulose arecottonandwood pulp. Cellulose is used as afood supplementfor many reasons: as a fibre supplement,as a calorie reducer, and for thickening or emulsifying and anti-caking properties.

Info sources:https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/topics/znyycdm/articles/z2d2gdm

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