Europe's first pilot facility for nanocrystalline cellulose

Pulp & Paper Canada
May 27, 2015
By Pulp & Paper Canada

A pilot facility for the production of nanocrystalline cellulose is being planned by MoRe Research, with the Swedish pulp and paper company Holmen, and SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden. The facility will be the first of its kind in Europe and represents an important step, allowing interested companies to develop nanocrystalline cellulose from cellulose-based material on a large scale.

The pilot plant will be based on technology developed by an Israeli start-up company Melodea.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for MoRe to be part of the development of nanocrystalline cellulose for commercial applications," says Stefan Svensson, president of MoRe Research. He says the pilot facility with be located directly adjacent to MoRe in Örnsköldsvik, Sweden.

“The investment in nanocrystalline cellulose is important in order to realise sustainable material solutions and to advance the field of bioeconomy," says Maria Khorsand, CEO of SP. “We are helping to make the pilot facility an environment that is open to all. SP operates in many different sectors and will also be able to pave the way for commercially interesting applications beyond the forestry sector's traditional boundaries."

Holmen is participating as a catalyst in the creation of the facility and in its role as a co-owner of Melodea. 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.

“Holmen is working actively to develop new products based on raw materials from our Swedish forests," states Ola Schultz-Eklund, director of business development and innovation at Holmen. “Nanocrystalline cellulose is definitely an interesting material for the future."

Melodea is developing an industrial process for the extraction of nanocrystalline cellulose (known as NCC or CNC) from the sludge produced by pulp and paper mills. A major component of the sludge is tiny cellulose fibers that are washed away during paper manufacturing. Melodea says its technologies allow the recovery of these fibers and convert them to NCC product. The company is also developing unique technologies to assemble the NCC into ecologically friendly foams.

Melodea’s NCC production process incorporates controlled acid hydrolysis. It can also produce NCC from bleached pulp, and other cellulose sources such as flax and hemp fibers.

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