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Cellulose derived nanocrystals plus PLA for bioplastic nanocomposites

October 14/2011

(PlasticsToday) -- The first nanomaterial from an entirely renewable resourcethat advance, nanocrystalline cellulose (NCC), was among many material developments announced during the recent 2011 Biopolymers Symposium, showcasing how R&D dollars are chasing the bioplastic/renewable polymer space, which may be small in size relative to traditional plastics but is growing rapidly in applications.

Joining NCC, which is described as a highly ordered crystalline cellulose that can be used to fortify bioplastics for a 100% biobased nanocomposite, was biobased aliphatic thermoplastic urethanes (TPU), compostable adhesives, stereo polylactic acid (PLA) blends, 100% biobased polyesters, food-contact film grades of polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA), and more.

Wadood Hamad introduced NCC to the symposium on behalf of CelluForce, noting that while cellulose is abundant in nature, it doesn't exist on its own, and isolating has heretofore been a major hurdle. Research into the nanocrystals goes at least back to 1951, according to Hamad, when the first colloidal suspensions were made, but leaps in technology and production have been made over the last five years.

In 2006, a company called FPInnovations set up a pilot plant, with a daily output of 2 kg. In 2010, CelluForce and Domtar set up a joint venture with FPInnovations, and are working on a facility in Windsor, ON that is planned to have 1 ton/day of production when it starts up in January 2012.

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