The start of our glucose molecule

How important is the glucose molecule?

Today the young scientists looked into the structure of the glucose molecule and the number of bonds joining the atoms … but were we studying chemistry, botany or health sciences?

Lets look at where glucose comes from, and where it goes, to see if we can work it out:

  • Glucose is the basis of how plants store their energy – made in leaves from water and carbon dioxide during photosynthesis. Plants also use glucose as the building blocks of cellulose for their cell walls, and look: cotton fibre is 90% cellulose; wood is 50% cellulose. Fruits taste sweet because of fructose which has the same formula as glucose but a different structure. The nectar in flowers is approximately 55% sucrose, 24% glucose and 21% fructose – see wikipedia.
  • The glucose building block is consumed by humans for energy in the form of carbohydrates which are really multiple glucose units joined together in a chain. Our carbohydrates come from plants such as potato, rice, maize, corn, and wheat (pasta, bread). We breath out some of that carbon as carbon dioxide!
Our own glucose molecule

Our finished glucose molecule

  • Chemists refine plant carbohydrates into the sugar we eat. Glucose syrup and corn syrup are used as sweeteners in many processed foods. Paper is produced from the cellulose pulp of trees. Plant carbohydrates made into alcohol are always being added to the petrol we put in our cars.
  • Doctors have a lot to say about our sugar and carbohydrate consumption – so we need to add medicine to the list too!
Glucose is an important subject – sure to come up in our O levels.
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