Celluforce Looks to Commercialize Nanocellulose
When discussing advancements in nanotechnology, the topic is often raised of environmental impact. This increasing awareness of the impact humankind, in particular technological advancement, has on the environment leads some investors to seek out companies that are developing disruptive technologies that are “green” or environmentally benign. One company that actively looks to understand and promote the importance of respecting the environment is Celluforce, which is looking to commercialize NanoCrystalline Cellulose or Nanocellulose.
Claiming to be the world leader in the commercial development of NanoCellulose, Canadian company Celluforce was founded in 2010 and employs about 30 people. Key shareholders in this privately held company include Domtar, the “sustainable paper company” and the largest integrated manufacturer of uncoated freesheet paper in North America also the second largest in the world based on production capacity. FPInnovations, a not-for-profit world leader in the creation of scientific solutions for the forest sector, is also a shareholder.
Derived from the cell walls of trees and plants, nanocellulose is abundant, renewable, recyclable and biodegradable With enhanced permeability, optical, and strength properties it is being described as a natural and renewable version of carbon nanotubes but produced at a fraction of the price. It can be manufactured from twigs and branches or even sawdust. Research in Nanocellulose has accelerated at a remarkable pace over the last decade:
According to an article by New Scientist published last year, Nanocellulose has a strength-to-weight ratio that is eight times better than stainless steel. Japan-based Pioneer Electronics is applying it to the next generation of flexible electronic displays, IBM is using it to create components for computers, and the US army is using it to make lightweight body armour and ballistic glass. Other potential applications for nanocellulose include barrier films, coatings, papermaking additives, paint modifiers, automotive components, cosmetics, concrete strengthening additives, colored films without pigments, and paper-like flexible electronic displays. With support from the Government of Canada, Celluforce opened a 35,000 square foot production plant in November 2011 which is now producing a ton of Nanocellulose a day. CelluForce has currently signed up 30 collaborators who will evaluate production trials of their Nanocellulose product.
While Celluforce is not the only player in this space by any means, they seem to have first mover advantage with the amount of Nanocellulose they are able to produce annually along with both government and corporate backing. It will be interesting to see which of the many various applications for this new material are first to be commercialized.
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