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FPInnovations devotes four sites, 11 researchers to nanocrystalline cellulose

FPInnovations inaugurated in late May its new nanocrystalline cellulose (NCC) research facilities, which consist of a state-of-the-art pilot plant, new high-performance equipment for the Québec City laboratory, and two new research...


June 2, 2011
By Pulp & Paper Canada

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FPInnovations inaugurated in late May its new nanocrystalline cellulose (NCC) research facilities, which consist of a state-of-the-art pilot plant, new high-performance equipment for the Québec City laboratory, and two new research laboratories located at Pointe-Claire, Que.

The pilot plant has a production capacity of 3 kilograms per day, and contains equipment based on leading-edge technology that ensures a rapid transfer of research results into industrial-scale production.

“We are all working very hard to maintain our world-wide lead in NCC research and development. With its three kilograms per day, this small pilot plant will still be producing the largest quantity of NCC in the world,” declared Pierre Lapointe, president and CEO of FPInnovations.

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The Pointe-Claire laboratories are dedicated primarily to NCC chemistry, as well as to NCC and nanocomposites characterization. The new laboratory equipment in Québec City is being used in the development of advanced wood materials in the appearance, structural, and composite wood products sector.

The cost of the construction of the facilities and the acquisition of the research equipment amounts to $4.1 million. This investment has been made possible thanks to the financial participation of the Ministère du Développement économique, de l’Innovation et de l’Exportation du Québec for 80% of the expenses and, Natural Resources Canada, for 20%, under its Transformative Technologies Program (TT). The project will make it possible to retain 11 full-time scientists and technicians dedicated to NCC research.

The new facilities permit FPInnovations to respond to ever-increasing demand for NCC from various groups. FPInnovations research groups need material for the study, among other things, of applications aimed at varnishes for wood floors, iridescent films and bioplastics. External groups (such as universities, research networks and centres, e.g. ArboraNano – the Canadian Forest Nanoproducts Network) and companies also want the material for research.

The pilot plant will also produce material for the development of new grades of NCC beyond the ten or so that have already been identified; the scaling up of NCC modification procedures; and collaboration with the Domtar-FPInnovations joint venture in order to pave the way for the commercialization of NCCs.

Nanocrystalline cellulose is a renewable, recyclable and abundant nanomaterial made of cellulose fibers from the wood pulp manufacturing process.