1 Forest, Nature and Biomass, Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management, Faculty of Science, Københavns Universitet2 ETH Zurich3 Novozymes A/S4 Forest, Nature and Biomass, Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management, Faculty of Science, Københavns Universitet
Mechanical agitation during enzymatic hydrolysis of insoluble plant biomass at high dry matter contents is indispensable for the initial liquefaction step in biorefining. It is known that particle size reduction is an important part of liquefaction, but the mechanisms involved are poorly understood. Here we put forward a simple model based on mechanical principles capable of capturing the result of the interaction between mechanical forces and cell wall weakening via hydrolysis of glucosidic bonds. This study illustrates that basic material science insights are relevant also within biochemistry, particularly when it comes to up-scaling of processes based on insoluble feed stocks.