According to the July 25, 2012 article by Rick Barrett originally published by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel McClatchy-Tribune Information Services) on the equities.com website,
The U.S. Forest Products Laboratory, in Madison, says it’s opening a $1.7 million pilot plant that will support an emerging market for wood products derived from nanotechnology.
It also could boost Wisconsin’s paper industry by offering a new, high-value raw material made from wood pulp.
The pilot plant will supply nanocrystals to companies and universities that want to make materials from them or conduct their own experiments. For now, at least, it will employ just one person.
The first commercialized product to come from the program will likely be a paper coating. That could happen in a year, Rudie [Alan Rudie, a chemist and project leader of the nanotechnology program at the Forest Products Laboratory] said, and it will likely be several years before more advanced products come from the laboratory.
The program will make materials in kilogram quantities, something not readily available now. It will allow companies and universities to ramp up bigger projects because they will have the raw materials.
But while the Forest Products Laboratory wants to foster the technology, it doesn’t want to compete with businesses interested in producing the materials.
“We are part of the federal government, so we cannot compete against commercial companies. So if someone comes in and starts making these materials on a commercial level, we will have to get out of it,” Rudie said. That’s why, he added, the program has bought only equipment it can use for other purposes.
I suppose this nanomaterial from Wisconsin could be another crystalline substance derived from wood but the description in the article makes it seem similar, if not identical, to the nanocrystalline cellulose (NCC) which is produced by the CelluForce plant in Windsor, Québec in quantities of 1000kg per day, according to publicity. (Information about the CelluForce plant opening, the efforts in Alberta, and other international inanocellulose research was mentioned in my Dec. 15, 2011 posting.)
I note Rudie’s emphasis on not competing with commercial interests and wonder about the situation with the Canadian plants which are funded both by federal and provincial government and commercial enterprises (Canada + Québec + Domtar = CelluForce and Canada + Alberta+Alberta-Pacific Forest Industries, Inc. = plant production in Alberta). In any event, I’m hoping the Canadian plants are going to be making their NCC accessible for Canadian innovators, inventors, and entrepreneurs, as well as, the research community. After all, how else does one expect innovation to occur?