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Effect of oxidation on cellulose and water structure: a molecular dynamics simulation study

Updated: Sep 6, 2021

Sathish Kumar Mudedla, Maisa Vuorte, Elias Veijola, Kaisa Marjamaa, Anu Koivula, Markus B. Linder, Suvi Arola, Maria Sammalkorpi

Cellulose, 2021, 28, 3917–3933

Abstract: Enzymatic cleavage of glycocidic bonds is an important, green and biocompatible means to refine lignocellulosic biomass. Here, the effect of the resulting oxidation point defects on the structural and water interactions of crystalline cellulose {100} surface are explored using classical molecular dynamics simulations. We show that even single oxidations reduce the connections within cellulose crystal significantly, mostly via local interactions between the chains along the surface plane but also via the oxidation defects changing the structure of the crystal in direction perpendicular to the surface. Hydrogen bonding on the surface plane of cellulose is analyzed to identify onset of desorption of glucose chains, and the desorption probed. To assess the actual soluble product profile and their fractions resulting from lytic polysaccharide monooxygenase (LPMO) enzyme oxidation on real cellulose crystal samples, we employ High-Performance Anion-Exchange Chromatography with Pulsed Amperometric-Detection (HPAEC-PAD) technique. The findings demonstrate the LPMO oxidation results in soluble glucose fragments ranging from 2 to 8 glucose units in length. Additionally, significantly more oxidized oligosaccharides were released in LPMO treatment of AaltoCell than Avicel, the two studied microcrystalline cellulose species. This is likely to result from the large reactive surface area preserved in AaltoCell due to manufacturing process. Furthermore, as can be expected, the oxidation defects at the surfaces lead to the surfaces binding a larger amount of water both via direct influence by the defect but also the defect induced protrusions and fluctuations of the glucose chain. We quantify the enhancement of water interactions of cellulose crystals due to the oxidation defects, even when no desorption takes place. The molecular simulations indicate that the effect is most pronounced for the C1-acid oxidation (carboxylic acid formation) but present also for the other defects resulting from oxidation. The findings bear significance in understanding the effects of enzymatic oxidation on cellulose nanocrystals, the difference between cellulose species, and cleavage of soluble products from the cellulosic material.

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