Something new from something old
Dec. 22, 2011 - What if there was a product that was completely renewable, abundant, non-toxic and could be added to any number of products to make them stronger?
Dec. 22, 2011 – What if there was a product that was
completely renewable, abundant, non-toxic and could be added to any number of
products to make them stronger?
It's not a fantasy, as Canadian
researchers are working on a product that can do just that – NanoCrystalline
NCC's are extracted from cellulose,
found in plant matter, through acid hydrolysis and purified. The resulting
product is around 100 – 200 nanometres in length, soluble in water, flexible
and responsive to electricity as well as magnetism.
There are two types of applications for
NCC, says Yaman Boluk, nanofibre chair in forest products at the University of
Alberta, high volume applications and low volume.
"High volume applications span
composites, paints, and other materials where the NCC can be incorporated (such
as coatings), [but] low volume applications are the bio-medical materials are
very expensive, such as tissue engineering, bonding, drug/gene delivery."
|When NCC is removed from cellulose,it forms a slurry that must be dried.
Photo courtesy of Alberta Innovates – Technology Futures
Boluk is collaborating with Alberta
Innovates – Technology Futures on a NCC pilot plant being built in Edmonton,
and works on observing how NCC reacts with different chemicals/materials for
potential application use. Through this, he can help develop commercial
products and observe how specific conditions can affect the properties of NCC.
"The next step, once the pilot
plant is operational, is to improve the process development," says Boluk.
"In the meantime, once the materials are available, there will be
different applications projects with other companies and researchers."
For more information on NanoCrystalline
Cellulose, its potential applications and how Canadian research is paving the
way, see the January/February issue of Canadian Biomass.