Finite element analysis of plant cell wall materials

Hung Kha*, Sigrid Tuble, Shankar Kalyanasundaram, Richard E. Williamson

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

    7 Citations (Scopus)


    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.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationFrontiers in Materials Science and Technology, FMST 2008
    PublisherTrans Tech Publications
    Number of pages6
    ISBN (Print)0878494758, 9780878494750
    Publication statusPublished - 2008
    EventInternational Conference on Frontiers in Materials Science and Technology, FMST 2008 - Brisbane, QLD, Australia
    Duration: 26 Mar 200828 Mar 2008

    Publication series

    NameAdvanced Materials Research
    ISSN (Print)1022-6680


    ConferenceInternational Conference on Frontiers in Materials Science and Technology, FMST 2008
    CityBrisbane, QLD


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