A Christmas tree ball? A new planet? Both is wrong. The photograph taken by a light microscope shows beech wood that has been broken up by an ionic liquid. Such salts, which liquefy below 100 degrees Celsius, make wood swell and break it down gently. This makes it easier to extract valuable components such as cellulose and lignin from the wood. These could replace fossil raw materials as the starting material for various products. Researchers from Jülich and Aachen are helping to optimise processes involving such liquids so that these processes can be used in industry.
This video shows the effect of the liquid:
PHOTO: Video-Screenshot/Viell, J., Szekely, N.K., Mangiapia, G. et al. In operando monitoring of wood transformation during pretreatment with ionic liquids. Supplemental Material. Cellulose 27, 4889–4907 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10570-020-03119-4 (CC-BY 4.0), VIDEO: FORSCHUNGSZENTRUM JÜLICH