Grenoble INP-Pagora and FPInnovations collaborate on Nano-Crystalline Cellulose (NCC) toward the goal of its industrialization
Published on November 16, 2010
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Within the framework of the Samuel de Champlain Franco-Canadian program, researchers from the LGP2, laboratory located in Grenoble INP-Pagora, and from FPInnovations, a private Canadian research center, are uniting their efforts to study the compatibilization of nano-crystalline cellulose. This collaboration aims to develop new applications in preparation for production at an industrial scale.
Since its discovery in the 1950's, nano-crystalline cellulose has aroused the curiosity of the scientific community. It is extracted from cellulose fibers like those used in paper fabrication. Its nanometric dimensions offer a very large distinctive surface and its intrinsic mechanical properties are comparable to steel fibers of similar size. In addition, nano-crystalline cellulose is distinguishable by its crystal liquid behaviour in aqueous solution suspension, presenting phenomena of birefringence under polarized light. When dried as film form, these suspensions are iridescent, a highly regarded property in security paper applications for example, since it is impossible to photocopy an iridescent element.
Their mechanical properties (reinforcement) and their optical properties (iridescence) can allow us to imagine the diverse potential applications of this natural substance produced from renewable, biodegradable, recyclable and carbon neutral sources: security papers, cosmetic products, decorative elements, biodegradable plastics, barrier packaging... Moreover, the nano-crystalline cellulose films can be printed by all the printing processes.
In 2006, Paprican developed a production pilot unit able to generate 1 kilogram of nano-crystalline cellulose per day. The mid-term objective is to produce them at an industrial scale of one ton per day in a pilot plant, in partnership with Domtar, a pulp and paper manufacturer. In this light, the researchers of FPInnovations wish to reinforce their collaboration with those of LGP2, - (their main European contact, because of their world renowned expertise) - in order to improve the complete exploitation of nano-crystalline cellulose's intrinsic qualities notably in developing its compatibility.
As part of this collaboration, (subsidized by a France-Québec exchange program), several student and visiting researcher exchanges have taken place over these past two years. The latest exchange is that of Jean Bouchard an FPInnovations researcher, who gave a much appreciated lecture on the developments of the industrial project and the risks concerning health.