Finite Element Analysis of Plant Cell Wall Materials
Illuminating fundamental aspects of plant cell wall mechanics will lead to novel biological and engineering inspired strategies for application in the cotton and wood fiber industries and in developing novel plant-derived materials that are increasingly seen as environmentally friendly alternatives. The stiffness properties of cell wall polymers such as cellulose microfibrils and xyloglucans are known but the relationship between the composite structure of the wall and its effective stiffness remains poorly understood. Understanding this relationship is important to engineers using and designing plant-derived materials and to biologists studying plant growth. We have developed a software system to generate microfibril-xyloglucan networks resembling those found in cell walls. Finite element analysis was implemented to predict the effective Young’s modulus of varying sizes of the microfibril-xyloglucan network. Results from the finite element models show that the network’s effective moduli of the cell walls having microfibrils parallel to applied loadings are relatively high (~90-215MPa) compared with those of the walls having randomly oriented microfibrils (~20-47MPa). The walls having microfibrils parallel to each other but perpendicular to applied loadings have lowest stiffness (~17-118kPa). The Young’s moduli are significantly lower than those of its constituent polymers and generally in agreement with experimentally measured values.
John Bell, Cheng Yan, Lin Ye and Liangchi Zhang
H. Kha et al., "Finite Element Analysis of Plant Cell Wall Materials ", Advanced Materials Research, Vol. 32, pp. 197-202, 2008