Cellulose facts for kids
Cellulose is the main chemical that forms the main structure of plants. It is the most abundant macromolecule on Earth. It is also a kind of fiber. Cellulose is a very complex carbohydrate and consisting of 3,000 or more glucose units. Cellulose was discovered by Anselme Payen in 1838. He isolated it from plant matter and determined its chemical formula. Cellulose is the most common organic compound on Earth.
Cellulose is made from a form of glucose and makes up most of the cell wall of plant cells. This is what keeps a plant in shape. Humans and other animals cannot digest cellulose but some animals such as termites and ruminants use bacteria to digest it.
It is a polysaccharide, which is repeating units of a monosaccharide joined together by a glycosidic bond by a condensation reaction, there is a by-product of water, found in plants. It is very tough because when you join beta glucose together, they are opposite ways up, the bonds are straight, forming straight chains. There is hydrogen bonds between the polymers.
These fibers are in bundles of about 40, called microfibrils. Microfibrils are embedded in a hydrated network of other polysaccharides. The cell wall is assembled in place. The parts are made inside the cell and then assembled by enzymes associated with the cell membrane.
It is mainly used to make paper. It is also used to make as cotton, linen, and rayon for clothes, nitrocellulose for explosives, and cellulose acetate for films. Cellulose is used as insulation in transformers, cables, and other electrical equipment. Microcrystalline cellulose and powdered cellulose are used as inactive fillers in drug tablets. Cellulose derivatives are used as emulsifiers, thickeners and stabilizers in processed foods. Cellulose can be converted into cellophane. Cellulose is used to make water-soluble adhesives and binders such as methyl cellulose and carboxymethyl cellulose.
Images for kids
A triple strand of cellulose showing the hydrogen bonds (cyan lines) between glucose strands
Cellulose Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.