The main difference between cellulose and fiber is that cellulose is a type of fiber that makes up the cell walls of plants whereas fiber is a natural and artificial substance that is longer than it is wide.
Cellulose and fiber are two types of elongated pieces that twist with each other to form a thread. Both contain roughly round cross-sections.
Key Areas Covered
1. What is Cellulose
– Definition, Features, Importance
2. What is Fiber
– Definition, Features, Importance
3. Similarities Between Cellulose and Fiber
– Outline of Common Features
4. Difference Between Cellulose and Fiber
– Comparison of Key Differences
What is Cellulose
Cellulose is the main structural component of the plant cell wall as well as many forms of algae and oomycetes. It is also the most abundant organic polymer on earth. Generally, cellulose is a polysaccharide containing linear chains of many thousands of β (1→4) linked D-glucose units. In addition to this, the hydroxyl groups of one linear chain form hydrogen bonds with the hydroxyl groups of the second linear chain of cellulose. Thus, this firmly holds each chain together, forming microfibrils with high tensile strength.
Furthermore, cellulose is indigestible in the human digestive system. Only ruminants can digest cellulose. The main sources of cellulose for industrial purposes are wood pulp and cotton. Cellulose is also important for making paper and paperboard. Cotton fibers are made up of 90% of cellulose. In addition, cellulose is important for the production of biofuels including cellulosic ethanol as a renewable energy source.
What is Fiber
Fiber is a thread-like filament that is longer than its width. Fibers are also used to manufacture other materials. Generally, there are two types of fibers. They are natural fibers and artificial fibers. Some examples of natural fibers include vegetable fibers such as cotton, hemp, and jute, wood fiber, animal fiber such as wool and silkworm silk, mineral fibers such as asbestos, and biological fibers such as fibrous proteins.
Moreover, there are two types of artificial fibers: semi-synthetic fibers and synthetic fibers. In general, semi-synthetic fibers are naturally long-chain polymers and they are partially degraded by a chemical process. Some examples of semi-synthetic cellulose fibers are rayon, modal, diacetate fiber, and triacetate fibers. However, synthetic fibers are a result of the polymerization of low-molecular-weight compounds. Some examples of synthetic fiber are polymer fibers such as nylon, polyester, and vinyon, metallic fibers such as copper and gold, carbon fiber, and fiberglass.
Similarities Between Cellulose and Fiber
- Cellulose and fiber are two types of elongated materials that have roughly round cross-sections.
- Usually, they are twisted with other fibers to form a thread.
Difference Between Cellulose and Fiber
Cellulose refers to an insoluble substance that is the main constituent of plant cell walls and of vegetable fibers such as cotton, while fiber refers to a thread or filament from which a vegetable tissue, mineral substance, or textile is formed.
Cellulose is a type of fiber while fiber is a type of elongated material.
Cellulose occurs in the bark, wood, and leaves while the two types of fibers are natural fibers and artificial fibers.
Cellulose is a polysaccharide consisting of a linear chain of several hundred to many thousands of D-glucose units that are β (1→4) linked while fiber is a natural and artificial substance that is longer than its wide.
Cellulose is an important structural component of the plant cell wall while fiber is important for clothing, and other features of living.
Cellulose is the primary structural component of the plant cell wall. It is a linear chain of thousands of glucose molecules. In addition, cellulose occurs in wood, bark, and the leaves of plants. In comparison, fiber can be either natural or synthetic materials that have a longer length than wide. They have roughly round cross-sections. The main importance of fibers is for clothing, comfort, and other uses. Therefore, the main difference between cellulose and fiber is their importance.
- “Cellulose.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.,
- “Fiber.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 31 Aug. 2022.
- “Kapok seeds I IMG 8004” By J.M.Garg– Own work (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
- “Fibreoptic” By BigRiz- Own Work (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia