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Agricultural waste becomes food and fuel, thanks to MSU research

Unlike simple sugars or even starches in the grains of plants, such as corn kernels, cellulose doesn’t dissolve in water. This is good for keeping plants healthy, but it's a problem for making biofuels.

Before the complex sugars in cellulose and hemicellulose (from woody plants) can be converted into ethanol or other biofuels and chemicals, they must be broken down into simple sugars. Because the process is difficult to do efficiently, it can significantly raise production costs.