Nanocrystalline Cellulose from Celluforce

NanoCrystalline Cellulose (NCC) is the primary structural building block of trees and other plants, and can be economically extracted from the wood fibres of Canada’s vast forests – an abundant and renewable resource. This high-value nanomaterial will be used to manufacture a wide range of uniquely enhanced products. It will enable development of new products, while transforming the performance of existing products.

This is a follow up on a report that nanocrystalline cellulose could have a $600 billion impact on the US economy by 2020.

Nextbigfuture first covered nanocrystalline cellulose in July, 2011

NanoCrystalline Cellulose is a uniform, redispersible natural nanoparticle obtained from the crystalline regions of cellulose fibres.

Cellulose is milled, and then hydrolyzed to remove amorphous regions. The resulting NCC is then separated and concentrated before being customized for various uses.

* NCC is composed of crystallites with average dimensions of 100nm length and 5nm diameter.
* NCC is tested to be practically non-toxic
* NCC is tested to be renewable, recyclable and biodgradable
* NCC has a measured surface area of about 500 m^2/g allowing for high reactivity

Plant for 1 ton per day

To produce one tonne per day of NCC, CelluForce has built a 35,000 sq.ft. plant in Windsor (Quebec), which is unique in the world. It was designed based on the technology developed by FPInnovations before being adapted to the specific needs of Celluforce. The technologically cutting edge equipment from around the world have been brought together for the first time in order to produce NCC commercially. Carried out at a cost of $33M, the construction of the plant was completed under the supervision of Domtar.

NCC improves strength and toughness and can reduce damage caused by wear, humidity and spectral radiation. Light reflectivity (tunable from ultraviolet to infra red), gas impermeability, and stability over time, makes the creation of many new forest-based nanoproducts that can be used in numerous industrial sectors possible.

NCC’s properties and many potential forms enable many uses, including:

* Biocomposites for bone replacement and tooth repair
* Pharmaceuticals and drug delivery
* Additives for foods and cosmetics
* Improved paper and building products
* Advanced or “intelligent” packaging
* High-strength spun fibres and textiles
* Additives for coatings, paints, lacquers and adhesives
* Reinforced polymers and innovative bioplastics
* Advanced reinforced composite materials
* Recyclable interior and structural components for the transportation industry
* Aerospace and transportation structures
* Iridescent and protective films
* Films for optical switching
* Pigments and inks
* Electronic paper printers
* Innovative coatings and new fillers for papermaking

Colored Film Applications

One of the most notable attributes of this material is that it can be used to form iridescent coloured films that can be adjusted precisely, making it possible to revolutionize many applications, including, among others;

* Security papers
* Iridescent pigments
* Switchable optical filters and barriers
* Sunscreens
* Cosmetics
* Packaging
* Coatings

Earlier Costs estimates and comparison to other materials

Presumably the Celluforce joint venture of Domtar and FPInnovations will be targeting lower prices and higher production volumes.

Kevlar costs about $50-200 per kilogram depending upon the grade of material So Nanocrystalline cellulose should cost 5 to 30 times less and with very high production volumes could cost less.

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