Scientists in Canada and France are working together to develop new applications for nano-crystalline cellulose, according to a new article published in Pulp and Paper Canada.
Nano-crystalline cellulose (NCC) is the isolated molecular structure of cellulose – the main component of the cell walls or trees and other plants. NCC can be added to many products such as paper and film to improve its durability, strength and appearance. NCC is also affected by magnetic and electrical fields so it could be useful as a filler in magnetic paper, electronic memory cards and readers, and other electronic products.
Researchers are not only examining further applications of this specialized cellulose product, but also looking at ways to produce NCC on an industrial scale for mass-market purchase.
Aside from its practical uses, “one thing that makes NCC so appealing for the 21st century is its potentially high ‘green quotient,’ says Canada’s Department of Natural Resources. “NCC is the product of renewable, recyclable natural resources—pulp is the main source material—and testing to date suggests that it’s virtually non-toxic and its production poses no serious environmental risks.”
In addition to these benefits, the Department of Natural Resources says that NCC could be an important product to bridge the pulp and paper industry with other industries in the country.
“The aerospace and automotive industries are just two groups interested in NCC as an ingredient for lightweight, high-strength composite materials,” they say on their website. “The health products and food sectors also plan to investigate its uses.”