Given the current Canadian interest in forest-based cellulose research (ArboraNano; Canadian Forest NanoProducts Network and CelluForce), this Jan. 11, 2013 news item on Nanowerk seems à propos (Note: A link has been removed),
EU-funded [European Union] scientists are bringing two of the most important fields of research together to develop novel multifunctional materials.
European scientists are merging renewable resources with nanotechnology with EU funding of the ‘Surface functionalisation of cellulose matrices using cellulose embedded nanoparticles’ (Surfuncell) project.
Cellulose is a polysaccharide, a long-chain sugar that is the main constituent of plant cell walls. Investigators are creating new composite materials (consisting of more than one individual material) composed of nano-scaled polysaccharide layers with embedded nanoparticles. The new class of high-value bio-based materials with tailored functions will be applicable to separation technology, medical devices, sensors and electronic systems.
Surfuncell is focused on modifying the surface of cellulose-based materials with polysaccharide derivatives and nanoparticles. Aside from using renewable materials, the project employs surface modification rather than the conventional practice of using nanoparticles as fillers in a bulk matrix. Scientists are creating demonstrators in the fields of pulp and paper, cellulosic yarns, cellulose films and filter membranes.
Scientists have created numerous nanoparticles and cellulose derivatives that are the source of new materials being produced in pilot tests. Among these are antimicrobial fibres for textiles and separation membranes with reduced clogging behaviour.
The subsequent project phase will focus on implementing pilot plant production of cellophane foils with enhanced barrier properties and of ultraviolet (UV)-protected paper surfaces. Surfuncell is merging nanotechnology and the use of renewable resources to develop novel multifunctional products in a sustainable way.
There was some excitement last year when a CNC (the term cellulose nanocrystals seems to be gaining over nanocrystalline cellulose [NCC]) pilot plant was opened in Wisconsin (July 27, 2012 posting), the official opening of the CelluForce plant in Québec (Jan. 30, 2012 posting), and in 2011, there was the announcement of a pilot plant to be opened in Alberta (July 5, 2011 posting).