The interest & investment in nanocrystalline cellulose continues – two new commitments are made in Europe

paperinsight bioeconomyOn the 11th March, 2015, Sappi Limited announced that it will build a pilot-scale plant for the low-cost production of Cellulose NanoFibrils (nanocellulose) at the Brightlands Chemelot Campus in Sittard-Geleen in the Netherlands.

The pilot plant is expected to be operational within nine months and the raw material would be supplied from any of Sappi’s Saiccor, Ngodwana and Cloquet dissolving wood pulp plants. The pilot plant will test the manufacturing of dry re-dispersible Cellulose NanoFibrils (CNF) using the proprietary technology developed by Sappi and Edinburgh Napier University. The CNF produced by Sappi will have unique morphology, specifically modified for either hydrophobic or hydrophilic applications. Products produced using Sappi’s CNF will be used in areas such as lighter and stronger fibre-reinforced composites and plastics, in food and pharmaceutical applications, and in rheology modifiers as well as in barrier and other paper and coating applications.

The location of the pilot plant at Brightlands Chemelot Campus provides Sappi with easy access to multiple partners with whom Sappi will seek to co-develop CNF-containing products across a range of applications.

The pilot plant is the precursor for Sappi to consider the construction of a commercial CNF plant and fits with Sappi’s strategy which includes seeking growth opportunities by producing innovative performance materials from renewable resources.

Please click here for the detailed Sappi announcement.

In another announcement, MoRe Research, Holmen and SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden, stated that they are investing in, ‘Europe’s first pilot facility for nanocrystalline cellulose‘, in Örnsköldsvik, Sweden.

The role of each of the participants can be summed up as follows:

  • The pilot facility is located directly adjacent to MoRe who have in-depth knowledge of cellulose, and wide-ranging experience of pilot operations and extensive laboratory and analytical resources.
  • As SP operates in many different sectors it will be able to pave the way for commercially interesting applications beyond the forestry sector’s traditional boundaries.
  • MoRe and SP will have central roles in the construction and operation of the facility, which is expected to be in place during the first half of 2016.
  • The operation in the pilot plant is based on technology developed by an Israeli start-up company Melodea.
  • Holmen is working actively to develop new products based on raw materials from forests and are participating as a catalyst in the creation of the facility and in their role as a co-owner of Melodea

The facility will allow interested companies to develop nanocrystalline cellulose from cellulose-based material on a large scale.  As with the Sappi announcement, the interesting material properties of nanocrystalline cellulose were emphasised, and examples were given for potential applications – as a building material, in biocomposites, printed electronics and dye additives.

The plant is supported financially by Västernorrland County Administrative Board, Holmen, the Kempe Foundations, SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden and the Önnesjö Foundation.

Please click here for the SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden announcement.