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Nanotechnology for wood fibre


October 1, 2012
By Pulp & Paper Canada

A select group of scientists, academics and businessmen gatheried in Montreal in June, drawn together by their interest in very small materials — nanomaterials. The week-long 2012 TAPPI International Conference on Nanotechnology for Renewable…

A select group of scientists, academics and businessmen gatheried in Montreal in June, drawn together by their interest in very small materials — nanomaterials. The week-long 2012 TAPPI International Conference on Nanotechnology for Renewable Materials drew attendees from around the world to discuss their common interest in nanomaterials based on wood fibre. The conference, organized in collaboration with PAPTAC, covered everything from the characterization of nanomaterials to markets, applications, standards, and safety.
The event opened with a tour of CelluForce’s nanocrystalline cellulose demonstration plant. Jean Moreau, CelluForce’s president and CEO, also spoke at the conference about the company’s experience with innovation and product development.
Moreau emphasized that CelluForce must protect its intellectual property. “That’s what will make us a specialty product, not a commodity.”
Also on the subject of nanocrystalline cellulose, Jean Hamel, vice-president, pulp and paper, with FPInnovations, noted that NCC marks the beginning of looking at wood fibre in a new way. “Fibre is not the smallest unit anymore, when disassembling a tree,” he said.
In her presentation, Katja Bergroth of Poyry Management Consulting, commented that developments in nanomaterials are starting to bear fruit, as large companies enter the arena.
She believes nanomaterials currently face several barriers to successful commercialization:
• upscaling of technology and characterization of products;
• economic feasibility;
• consumer acceptance;
• developing value chains;
• health and safety.

Mapping the new frontier
It was announced at the conference that TAPPI has formed an international nanotechnology division, under the chairmanship of Sean Ireland of International Paper.
Ireland noted that the nano division would work on: advancing R& D, education and networking, applications, standards, resources, raising awareness and promotion. One of the group’s tools is a video called “Rethink Trees”, available at http://www.tappinano.org. The next TAPPI nanotechnology conference will be in Stockholm, May 2013.
PAPTAC is also organizing a symposium on nanocrystalline cellulose in Victoria B.C. next June, as part of ISWFPC 2013.

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