Tag Archives: Richard Berry

Deadline for submissions to 2014 TAPPI International Conference on Nanotechnology of Renewable Materials in Vancouver, Canada extended

A November 12, 2013 news item on TextileWorld.com announced the new deadline, Nov. 22, 2014, (original deadline was Nov. 5, 2013) for the 2014 TAPPI (Technical Association for the Pulp, Paper, Packaging and Converting Industries) nanotechnology conference submissions,

The Norcross, Ga.-based Technical Association for the Pulp, Paper, Packaging and Converting Industries (TAPPI) has issued a call for 300-word abstracts for presentations to be given at the 2014 TAPPI International Conference on Nanotechnology for Renewable Materials, to be held June 23-26 at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver in Vancouver, Canada.

… Abstracts focused on additive manufacturing, 3-D printing and other industrial manufacturing applications are preferred.

…. Deadline for submissions is November 22, 2013. …

You can find the 2014 TAPPI Nanotechnology conference website here and the PDF of the Call for Submissions here. Here’s a list of suggested topics from the Call for Submissions,

Preparation & Characterization
Renewable Nanomaterial Isolation & Separation
Cellulose nanocrystals and nanofibrils
Plant, algal, bacterial and other sources
Lignin, heteropolysaccharides, chitosan, etc.
Lab & Pilot-Scale Production
Process Optimization
New isolation & extraction methods
Drying processes
Separation processes forr enewable nanomaterials
Sizing, mechanical,chemical, optical and surfaceproperties
Purity, molecular weight, crystallinity, etc.
Thermal, electrical and other properties
Toxicity, biocompatibility & Biodegradability
Self- and Direct-Assembly & Functionalities Nanostructured Materials by Self-assembly
Nano manufacture & self-assembly
Photonic bandgap pigments for special optical effects
Controlled delivery, immobilization, etc.
Novel Nano-enabled Functionalities
Surface modification and responsive materials
Optical effects for novel photonic applications
Inorganic materials template by cellulose nanocrystals
Novel electric, magnetic and piezoelectric effects
Sustainable polymer electronics
Carbon Fibers from Biomass
Production, characterization & uses
Membranes & Filters
New Membrane technologies
Air, water and bio filtration
Biomedical Applications
Ligament replacements, scaffolds, advanced woundtechnology
Bioactive materials
Rheology and Dispersion Phenomena
Rheology behavior in aqueous and non-aqueous systems
Viscoelastic properties, etc.
Composites, Hydrogels, and Aerogels
Nanocomposites and Renewable Nanomaterials
Nano-reinforced films and fibers
Biomimetic nanocomposites
Porous materials, gels and aerogels, foams and multiphase dispersed system
Bio-derived matrix polymers
Organic/Inorganic Hybrids
Flexible electronics, etc.
Metal functionalization, ALD, etc,
Manufacturing Applications
Rheology and Rheological Modifiers
Industrial processing applications, e.g., food, pharma, painting, coating, oil, gas, etc.
Dispersion and flocculation
Additive Manufacturing
Raw nanomaterials
Medical applications
3D printing
Paper, Board & Packaging
Coatings & Fillers
High modulus paper coatings
Wear and scratch resistant coatings
Flexible Packaging
Printing Technologies
Printing inks
Smart materials
Sensing technologies
Computer Modeling and Simulation
Multiscale Modeling
Solvation structure and hydrodynamics
Environmental, Health and Safety Issues
Workplace Safety & Standards
Current understanding andcritical gaps
Consumer perception and regulations
Management of risks and perceptions
Sustainability assessment, LCA

In digging about for information about the TAPPI nanotechnology conference,, I came across a reference to a meeting hosted by PAPTAC (Pulp and Paper Technical Association of Canada) regarding nanocrystalline cellulose (NCC) or, as it’s also known, cellulose nanocrystals (CNC)  held in June 2013 in Victoria, BC (preparatory to the 17th [2013] International Symposium
on Wood, Fibre and Pulping Chemistry [ISWFPC] conference in Vancouver) I thought the CNC programme interesting enough to reproduce here,

Keynote lecture by Professor Arthur Carty, Executive Director of the Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology
Small World, Large Impact: Driving a Materials Revolution Through Nanotechnology
Dr Clive Willis, Former Vice President of National Research Council of Canada (NRC)
Standardization of CNC: Needs and Challenges
9:45 Coffee Break
Dr Richard Berry, VP and CTO, CelluForce Inc.
CelluForce—The Journey So Far
Dr Alan Rudie, USDA Forest Products Lab
Pilot Scale Production of Cellulose Nanocrystals and Cellulose Nanofibrils:
The US Need, FPL Process and Status
Professor Derek Gray, McGill University
Preparation and Optical Properties of Films Containing Cellulose Nanocrystals
12:30 Lunch
Professor Akira Isogai, Tokyo University
Applications of TEMPO-oxidized Cellulose Nanofibres to Gas Barrier Films and Nanocomposites
Dr Laurent Heux, CERMAV
Physico-chemical and Self-assembling Properties of CNC in Water and Organic Solvents
Professor Emily Cranston, McMaster University
Surface-modified Cellulose Nanocrystals: Characterization, Purification and Applications
15:45 Coffee Break
Dr Carole Fraschini, FPInnovations
Particle Issues in the Determination of Nanocellulose Particle Size
Dr Andriy Kovalenko, National Institute of Nanotechnology (NINT-NRC)
Multi-scale Modelling of the Structure, Thermodynamics,
and Effective Interactions of CNC in Different Solutions
19:00 Dinner and Award—Host: Dr J Bouchard

Monday, June 10

Dr Wadood Hamad, FPInnovations
Cellulose Nanocrystals for Advanced Functional Nanocomposites
Professor Michael Tam, University of Waterloo [emphasis mine]
Cellulose Nanocrystals—Functionalization, Characterization and Applications in Personal Care Systems
Professor Mark MacLachlan, University of British Columbia
Cellulose Nanocrystal-derived Porous Materials… With a Twist
10:45 Coffee Break
Professor Yaman Boluk, University of Alberta
Cellulose Nanocrystals in Soft Matter and Smart Applications
Professor Orlando Rojas, North Carolina State University
Self- and Direct-assembly of Cellulose Nanocrystals at Solid, Liquid and Air Interfaces: Fundamentals and Applications
12:45 Lunch
Professor John Simonsen, Oregon State University
Atomic Layer Deposition on Cellulose Nanocrystal Aerogels
Professor Alain Dufresne, Grenoble INP—Pagora
Processing of Nanocellulose Based Polymer Nanocomposites
Professor Monique Lacroix, INRS-Institut Armand-Frappier
The Use of Cellulose Nanocrystals in Food Packaging
16:00 Coffee Break
Professor Mark Andrews, McGill University
Cellulose NanocrystalsMake Light Work
Dr David Plackett, University of British Columbia
Cellulose Nanocrystals as a Vehicle for Delivery of Antibiotics

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Michael Tam bears the same last name as Janelle Tam whose father is named Michael and both of whom lived in Waterloo when the then 16 year old Janelle Tam placed first in the 2013 Sanofi BioGENEius Challenge Competition (my May 11, 2012 posting).

There you have it, Good luck with your 2014 TAPPI nanotechnology conference submission.

CelluForce in Brazil at workshop on nanotechnology

The first Brazil-Canada Workshop on Nanotechnology will be taking place in São Paulo, Brasil, Dec. 6-7, 2012 and Dr. Richard Berry of Canada’s CelluForce (developer of nanocrystalline cellulose or cellulose nanocrystals as the product is also known) will be presenting.

Here’s a bit more about the Brazil-Canada meeting from its home page,

The 1st Brazil-Canada Workshop on Nanotechnology Gathers scientists, researchers, government and industry to discuss the possibilities of Brazil-Canada cooperation on Nanotechnology. The main institutions participating on the event are the Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology (WIN) , the National Center for Energy and Materials Research (CNPEM), the Institute for Energy and Nuclear Research (IPEN). The special guest institution is the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), from U. S.

The Dec. 3, 2012 CelluForce news release provides details about Dr. Berry’s presentation, which is titled Nanomaterials From Trees – Harnessing The Power of Nature’s Basic Elements,

CelluForce, the world leader in the commercial development of NanoCrystalline Cellulose (NCC), also referred to as Cellulose Nanocrystals (CNC), is participating in the first Brazil-Canada workshop on nanotechnology  in Sao Paulo, Brazil on Thursday, December 6, 2012.  Richard Berry, Vice-President and Chief Technology Officer of CelluForce, will provide an overview of the current knowledge of NCC including the state of development, potential applications as well as health and safety practices.

This workshop, organized by Nanotechnology Coordination at the Brazilian Ministry for Science Technology and Innovation and the Energy and Nuclear Research National Institute (IPEN), aims to identify prospective nanotechnology projects where Brazil and Canada can cooperate. Distinguished members from industry and academia will share their knowledge and expectations on the subject.

You can find abstracts for some of the other presenters (Fernando Galembeck, Director of LNNano, Brazil; Michael K.C. Tam, Department of Chemical Engineering and Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology, University of Waterloo, Canada; and Dr. Jennifer Flexman, advancing research and development, industrial collaboration and commercialization, University of Toronto, Canada) here.

ETA Dec.5.12 1325 hours PST: I think someone tried to send me some additional information about this meeting. Unfortunately, I deleted the message as spam before I realized what I was reading. The spam filter is usually pretty good but this happens every once in a while. If you’re inclined please do e-mail ([email protected]) with the info. & I will add it.

You say nanocrystalline cellulose, I say cellulose nanocrystals; CelluForce at Japan conference and at UK conference

In reading the Oct. 14, 2012 news release from CelluForce about its presence at conferences in Japan and in the UK, I was interested to note the terminology being used,

CelluForce, the world leader in the commercial development of NanoCrystalline Cellulose (NCC), also referred to as Cellulose Nanocrystals (CNC),[emphases mine] is participating in two  upcoming industry conferences:  the ‘Nanocellulose Summit 2012’ in Kyoto, Japan on October 15, 2012, and ‘Investing in Cellulose 2012’, in London, UK, on November 5, 2012.

All of the materials from Canadian companies and not-for-profits have used the term nanocrystalline cellulose (NCC) exclusively, until now. I gather there’ve been some international discussions regarding terminology and that the term cellulose nanocrystals (CNC) is, at the least, a synonym if not the preferred term.

Here’s more about the conference in Japan (from the CelluForce news release),

The 209th Symposium on Sustainable Humanosphere: Nanocellulose Summit 2012’ welcomes the world’s top scientists and large research project leaders involved with nanocellulose to present on each country’s current status and prospects concerning nanocellulose research and industrialization.

What:                  CelluForce – What do we do?

Who:                    Richard Berry, Vice President and Chief  Technology Officer, CelluForce

When:                 Monday, October 15, 2012, 4 p.m. JST

Where:                 Kyoto Terrsa Venue, Shinmachi Kujo Minami-ku,
Kyoto, Japan (Kyoto Citizen’s Amenity Plaza)

I found out a little more about the conference Dr. Richard Berry will be attending on the Nanocellulose Summit 2012 webpage on the Kyoto University website,

The world’s top scientists and large research project leaders involved with nanocellulose (cellulose nanofiber (CNF) [sic] and cellulose nanocrystal (CNC or NCC) ) brought together. They will talk about each country’s current status and prospects concerning nanocellulose research and industrialization.

You can find more details, including the agenda, on the conference webpage.

Here’s more about the investment-oriented conference taking place in the UK,

In its second edition, ‘Investing in Cellulose 2012’ is a global conference on specialty cellulose, organized by CelCo. The company focuses primarily on the specialty cellulose business including the organization of cellulose training courses as well as advisory and consultancy to the industry.

What:                  Nanocrystalline technologies: Bringing Innovation to the Market

Who:                    Jean Moreau, President and CEO, CelluForce

When:                 Monday, November 5, 2012, 2:30 p.m. BST

Where:                The Royal Horseguards Hotel, 2 Whitehall Court Whitehall, London SW1A 2EJ, United Kingdom

I have found an ‘Investing in Cellulose 2012‘ conference webpage (of sorts) on the CelCo website (Note: I have removed some of the formatting),

Based on the success of 2011 specialty cellulose conference and encouraged by a 92% return intention response we are pleased to announce that Investing in Cellulose -2012 Conference will take place in London on November 5th.

A cocktail will kick off the event the preceding night and close around 18:00 of November 5th.

So please SAVE THE DATE in your calendar and contact us HERE

 We have taken into account your wishes and suggestions for this second year event and some of the changes will include:

  • Antitrust lawyer attending meeting allowing larger participation esp. from USA.
  • New topics to allow ether and viscose market to be better covered. Technology section during the day.
  • Seat in lunch accommodations and air condition.
  • Larger china representation.
  • More downstream value chain participation.

We will share later this year the Agenda but feel free to let us know if there were any particular topics you would like us to cover or you would like to present.

The most I could find out about the UK conference organizer is that  Celco Cellulose Consulting is a Swiss company founded by two partners.

2012 SANOFI BioGENEius Canada followup: Janelle Tam and CelluForce

Janelle Tam (high school student mentioned in my May 11, 2012 posting) was welcomed by CelluForce, the joint FPInnovation/Domtar company in Windsor, Québec, so she could demonstrate some of her nanocrystalline cellulose (NCC) research. Caroline Bouchard in a July 11, 2012 article for La Presse/La Tribune provides more information about the research and when any potential products might be created (Frrench language excerpt, I will attempt a translation),

Janelle Tam, une jeune Ontarienne de 17 ans, a découvert une substance bénéfique pour la santé à base de nanocellulose cristalline (NCC) telle que produite à l’usine Celluforce de Windsor.

Couplée chimiquement à des particules de carbone, la NCC, une substance extraite de la fibre du bois, serait un puissant agent antivieillissement et un antioxydant supérieur aux vitamines C et E.

Sans être considérée comme une véritable fontaine de jouvence, cette découverte s’avère prometteuse pour améliorer les produits de santé et anti-âge, des applications que Celluforce pourrait exploiter d’ici trois à cinq ans.

Translation here we go: Tam discovered a new substance, based on NCC, which is extracted from wood and produced by the CelluForce plant in Windsor, with anti-aging properties and  superior anti-oxidant properties to vitamins C & E. The NCC is combined with carbon nanoparticles (specifically buckminster fullerenes). CelluForce may be able to exploit this health/beauty application in the next three to five years.

The CelluForce folks were so excited about Tam & her work they presented her with a plaque when she visited their plant on July 9, 2012,

Janelle Tam and Dr. Richard Berry, Vice President, Chief Technology Officer at CelluForce (courtesy: CelluForce)

Tam’s research opens a new opportunity for NCC research which, in Canada, has mainly focussed on textiles, composites, and coatings. Here’s Tam describing her work (from the Bouchard article),

«Les antioxydants préviennent et traitent des maladies. Ils peuvent aussi être utilisés dans la conservation des aliments et dans les produits anti-âge. Certains antioxydants sont toutefois toxiques, ou encore, ne sont pas solubles dans l’eau. Par exemple, les vitamines C et E se dégradent, alors quand elles sont présentes dans un produit cosmétique, leur effet diminue avec le temps. La NCC est naturelle, non toxique, soluble et stable. Elle peut aussi réagir à la température ou au pH», explique Janelle Tam, originaire de Singapour et étudiante de 12e année au Waterloo Collegiate Institute.

Rough (very) translation: Antioxidants can prevent and treat illness. They can also be used for food preservation and anti-aging. Some antioxidants are toxic and/or insoluble in water. For example, vitamins C & E degrade so when they’re present in a cosmetic the effect tapers off over time. NCC is natural, nontoxic, soluble, and stable. It also reacts to temperature or pH levels,  explains Tam originally from Singapore and a student in grade 12 at Waterloo Collegiate Institute.

As the 2012 winner of the Sanofi BioGENEius Challenge Canada competition, Tam was invited to compete in this year’s international Sanofi BioGENEisu Challenge held in Boston, Massachusetts on June 19, 2012. Tam received an honourable mention for her work while Rui Song of Saskatoon placed third internationally. From the Sanofi BioGENEius Challenge Canada website,

A 16-year-old Saskatchewan girl with a goal of improving world health by engineering a more nutritious variety of lentil was among the top prize winners Tuesday June 19 at an international science competition for elite high school students.

Rui Song, a Grade 11 student at Saskatoon’s Walter Murray Collegiate, was awarded the $2,500 third place prize at this year’s International BioGENEius Challenge, conducted at the annual global BIO conference in Boston.

Janelle Tam, a Grade 12 student at Waterloo Collegiate Institute in Ontario, was awarded a $500 prize and honourable mention for her project — the invention of a disease-fighting, anti-aging compound using nano-particles from trees.

Both girls had earned berths in the international competition last month in the Sanofi BioGENEius Challenge Canada with first (Janelle) and second place (Rui) finishes.

Congratulations to both Rui Song and Janelle Tam.

I interviewed Dr. Richard Berry in my Aug. 27, 2010 posting where he very kindly answered my questions about cellulose, the nano kind and otherwise.

One final thought, why doesn’t CelluForce stimulate more innovative research on NCC by running a contest modeled on this Sanofi BioGENEius competition? They could call it something like the ‘CelluForce Creativity Crunch’.

This is a good nanocellulose video? Really!?!

Perhaps I’ve lost my grip but this video seems a little lacking and, frankly, very 1950s/60s in spirit, if not in look when they would have used much brighter colours. I’m talking about the TAPPI ((Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry) video mentioned in a Feb. 23, 2012 news item on Nanowerk,

A new video on potential applications for nanotechnology in the forest products industry has been widely adopted as a teaching and learning tool. [emphasis mine] Dozens of organizations have added it to their website and the video website has been visited 1037 times in the past three months. The video clearly and concisely covers current uses of tree fiber and the tremendous potential of nanotechnology for development of new products.

What would you be teaching and/or learning from this video? For anyone who’s curious, here it is,

Based on the information in this video and assuming the individual had no prior knowledge of nanocellulose , could the average person describe or discuss it after watching this video? At the best, someone might be able to say there’s something really small in a tree called nanocellulose and it can be used for all kinds of things, like cars and food.  Is this really TAPPI’s and its partners’ concept of a “learning and teaching tool?” It looks more like a public relations ‘fluff’ piece to me.

(The Rethinktrees.org website listed at the end of the video does not yet seem to be functional and you will be rerouted to a TAPPI page. So for anyone who wants to see the video in its ‘native habitat’, you can go here.)

Apparently, I am alone in my jaundiced view of this video production. From the news item,

“Congratulations on an outstanding video presentation! The Rethink trees video presents a high quality message of the new directions our industry is taking into innovative fields such as nanotechnology,” states Richard Berry, VP and Chief Technology Officer, CelluForce Inc. “We are very proud to be part of this adventure.”

“The TAPPI Nanotechnology video does a superb job of telling the story of how forests can be managed responsibly to make sustainable products. Not only paper, but new generations of innovative materials as well like liquid biodiesel and nanocellulose that can be used in a multitude of applications. Imagine filling your car with biodiesel made from wood – this will be a reality in the near future. Forests are not only renewable, they have a multitude of other environmental benefits that are essential to our planet and, as the TAPPI video states, they hold the secrets to many future sustainable products,” according to Phil Riebel, President,Two Sides U.S.

There is an interesting point made by Michael Crumpacker (love that last name) about why we might want to include farmed trees in our notion of environmental sustainability (from the news item),

“In our society we love being politically correct and jumping on the band wagon to spread information even if it’s incorrect. A perfect example is the statement: “Please consider the environment before printing this email.” The truth is that if you did consider the environment you would print the email because trees are renewable, recyclable and sustainable and pulp is a cash crop that is grown by farmers and healthy for the environment. For every tree harvested in the United States four are planted. If we keep eliminating the need for paper, fewer companies will be willing or able to afford to manage our forests, ” notes Michael Crumpacker, President, TCC Printing & Imaging. [emphasis mine]

I think he means tree farms as it would be ridiculous to say that forests need to be managed by companies. After all, forests have grown and developed for centuries without any need for management from forest companies.

It’s good to start the day with a laugh. I hope you enjoyed the video as much as I did.

The Swedes, sludge, and nanocellulose fibres

According to a Swedish research team at Luleå University of Technology, it’s possible to create cellulose nanofibres from sludge. Well, it’s a particular kind of sludge. From the Feb. 16, 2012 news item on Nanowerk,

For example, at one single cellulose manufacturer, Domsjö Fabrikerna in Sweden, the producer of special cellulose, which is used to in the manufacturing of viscose fibers, causes one thousand tons of sludge as a residue each year.

A few years ago, cellulose industries in Sweden, disposed some of their waste as sludge into the ocean. It is now prohibited, and the sludge is stored in large tanks on land. This particular cellulose sludge makes it possible, to produce, so far, the most profitable production of cellulose nanofibres from bio-residue products.

The yield of the manufacture of cellulose nanofibres from the sludge is 95%, compared with cellulose nanofiber production from wood chips 48%, lignin residues 48%, carrot residues of 20%, barley 14% and grass 13%. [emphases mine] “The separation of cellulose nanofibres from bioresidues is energy demanding but when we separate the waste from Domsjö, the energy consumption is lower. The special cellulose from Domsjö has very small size and it also has high cellulose content and therefore the fibers do not need to be chemically pre-treated before the production of cellulose nanofibers,” says Professor Kristiina Oksman.

This is interesting news especially in light of the interview with Jean Moreau (president of CelluForce, a company which manufactures nanocrystalline cellulose [NCC] in Québec, Canada) that I heard yesterday where there was some discussion as to what type of wood is needed to produce it.

In an interview with Dr. Richard Berry (now with CelluForce but with FPInnovations at the time), I asked where the NCC comes from (my Aug. 27, 2010 posting),

Q: Does the process use up the entire log or are parts of it left over? What happens to any leftover bits?

A:         We are starting from the bleached chemical pulp which is, to a large extent, cellulose. The left over bits have actually been processed as part of the chemical pulp mill processes. The acid used is recovered and reused and the sugars are converted into other products; in the demonstration plant they will be converted into biogas.

I’m not sure when the ‘spiderphone’  interview took place but it seems to be prior to the manufacturing/demonstration plant’s opening earlier this year (2012). For the curious, here’s a link to the 48 min. interview (roughly 25 mins. Moreau and roughly 25 mins. of questions from callers), http://ccc.spiderphone.com/RealCast/9597937293/Flashcast.html. (Thanks again to David Rougley for dropping by to leave a comment and this link to the interview on an earlier nanocellulose fibre posting [March 28, 2011].)

Getting back to the main event, the Swedish research is part of a larger project called Bio4Energy and you can find out more about that here.

Bravo to the Swedes for making use of sludge!


CelluForce (nanocrystalline cellulose) plant opens

Before launching into the news about its manufacturing plant, here’s a little information about the company itself, CelluForce, a joint venture between FPInnovations and Domtar, from the About CelluForce page,

The company is a joint venture of Domtar Corporation and FPInnovations and was created to manufacture NCC in the world’s first plant of its kind, located in Windsor, Québec.

I wrote about CelluForce in my June 6, 2011 posting around the time it was launched and now its raison d’être, the manufacturing plant, is operational. From the Dec. 13, 2011 news item on Nanowerk,

Members of the board, management and employees of CelluForce are pleased to announce the end of the construction phase and the start of operations at the first manufacturing plant for NanoCrystalline Cellulose (NCC) in the world.

For the last eight weeks, CelluForce has been progressively starting up the equipment for the first ever large-scale production of NCC. The nanomaterial will be produced in state-of-the-art facilities located at Domtar’s pulp and paper plant in Windsor, Quebec. Construction extended over a fourteen-month period. It required a total investment of $36M including the financial participation of both the Federal and Québec governments. The company is particularly pleased to have completed construction phase on time.

CelluForce President and CEO Jean Moreau declared, “Wood pulp is being delivered to the plant to test the new equipment and we are making progress on a daily basis. NCC will start to be produced by the end of the year, with production gradually increasing until it reaches a steady rhythm of 1,000 kg per day in 2012″.

For anyone who’s unfamiliar with NanoCrystalline Cellulose (NCC), I posted an interview with Dr. Richard Berry of FPInnovations who kindly answered some very basic questions on NCC in my Aug. 27, 2010 posting.

The opening of the CelluForce manufacturing plant is very exciting news given that Canadians have a worldwide lead in this research area. Being able to produce NCC in amounts that are meaningful at an industrial scale will make research easier not just in Canada but elsewhere too.

From the news item on Nanowerk,

CelluForce will, on a worldwide basis, market NanoCrystalline Cellulose for strength applications under the CelluForce Impact™ brand, and for optical applications of NCC under the CelluForce Allure™ brand.

I don’t think this video adds much information but it is very slick and entertaining,

Here’s a listing of applications that NCC can be used to produce (from the CelluForce Applications page),

NCC’s properties and many potential forms enable many uses, including:

  • Biocomposites for bone replacement and tooth repair
  • Pharmaceuticals and drug delivery
  • Additives for foods and cosmetics
  • Improved paper and building products
  • Advanced or “intelligent” packaging
  • High-strength spun fibres and textiles
  • Additives for coatings, paints, lacquers and adhesives
  • Reinforced polymers and innovative bioplastics
  • Advanced reinforced composite materials
  • Recyclable interior and structural components for the transportation industry
  • Aerospace and transportation structures
  • Iridescent and protective films
  • Films for optical switching
  • Pigments and inks
  • Electronic paper printers
  • Innovative coatings and new fillers for papermaking

One of the most notable attributes of this material is that it can be used to form iridescent coloured films that can be adjusted precisely, making it possible to revolutionize many applications, including, among others;

  • Security papers
  • Iridescent pigments
  • Switchable optical filters and barriers
  • Sunscreens
  • Cosmetics
  • Packaging
  • Coatings

I hope to hear more about CelluForce and its efforts with NCC.

On a somewhat related note, I wonder what’s happening with the NCC efforts in Alberta? I noted in my July 5, 2011 posting that an NCC pilot plant was being opened in that Canadian province but I haven’t heard anything since.

I also noted that there is going to be a session titled NanoCellulose: An Abundant, Sustainable, Versatile Biopolymer at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting in Vancouver this February 2012 featuring a researcher from Alberta.

Here’s the session description and speakers,

Saturday, February 18, 2012: 3:00 PM-4:30 PM

Room 220 (VCC West Building)

Nanocellulose is a generic name for a new family of novel fibrils derived from plant cell walls or bacteria. Just as cellulose has been an abundant natural resource for millennia with substantial contributions to the development of civilizations, the unique nanocelluloses are sustainable biopolymers poised to have a major role in improving the quality of human life in this century. A rapidly expanding field of nanocellulose science has emerged with pioneering results, leading some to predict that the field could parallel history, where the 1920s studies on cellulose contributed to the discovery of polymers and led to the origin of polymer science. Fibrillated, crystalline, and bacterial nanocelluloses have unsurpassed versatility and strength for composite materials, films, medical implants, drug delivery systems, and a biomaterial rivaling Kevlar, which is made from fossil fuels. With cellulosic biofuels becoming a competitive alternative to fossil fuels, research in enzymology is targeting high-value nanofibrillated cellulose as a biofuel co-product. This symposium will present current findings that bridge multidisciplines, from genomics of tree and plant breeding, plant cell wall structure and function, advanced techniques for characterizing cell walls and nanocellulose, and specialized methods for isolating nanofibrils, to novel biomaterials. The speakers represent three international science and technology centers at the forefront of this new wave of cellulose research.


Barbara Illman, U.S. Forest Service


Barbara Illman, U.S. Forest Service


Theodore Wegner, U.S. Forest Service
A World View of Nanocellulose

Nils Petersen, National Research Council Canada
Nano-Scale Devices for Nanocellulose

Ali Harlin, VTT Technical Research Center of Finland
Nanocellulosic Technologies: A Success Story

It looks interesting but I would have liked to have heard from an FPInnovations researcher and the Brazilian researchers who are working on nanocellulose fibres from pineapples and bananas (my Mar. 28, 2011 and June 16, 2011 postings) and Israeli researchers who are working on NCC foams (my Aug. 2, 2011 posting). These panels are always difficult to organize as you try to get everyone in the same room at the same time although the panel does seem to be focused on wood products as a source for NCC.  (If you search Ali Harlin on LinkedIn, you’ll find paper and wood products are Harlin’s area of expertise.)

I notice Nils Petersen, one of the speakers, who in addition to being a National Research Council (NRC) scientist is also the Director General for Canada’s National Institute of Nanotechnology located in Alberta.

ArboraNano focuses on NCC

I found this May 10, 2011 news item about AboraNano’s plan to launch nine new research and development (R&D) projects on Nanowerk and noted that seven of these projects are going to be focused on uses for nanocrystalline cellulose (NCC).

(I have covered the topic of NCC several times, most recently in an interview with Mark MacLachlan in an interview about his work at the University of British Columbia in my March 25, 2011 posting and before that in an interview with Dr. Richard Berry of FP Innovations in my August 27, 2010 posting.)

From the news item,

ArboraNano, a member of Canada’s Business-Led Networks of Centres of Excellence program, is pleased to announce the launch of nine new research and development (R&D) projects targeting innovative paper grades, improved foams and nanocomposite developments using forest nanomaterials. Seven of these projects will focus on the use of non-toxic and environmentally-friendly nanocrystalline cellulose (NCC). The projects are to be carried out over the next two years by industrial scientists and engineers from the pulp and paper, automotive, machinery and engineering sectors, as well as researchers from Canadian universities and Canadian research institutes.

ArboraNano’s contribution to these projects totals $3.35 million with matching contributions from industry and provincial organizations.

Here’s a brief overview of the types of projects being supported (from the news item),

Paper and packaging projects

Among the projects recently launched with pulp & paper partners, three will focus on creating “greener” paper grades, paperboards and coatings with performance properties that will compare favorably to existing products. …

Automotive projects

The goal of the two recently launched projects in the automotive industry is to develop performance-enhancing additives used in the manufacture of polyurethane foam and construction products particularly for load building in seat cushion foam. … [NOTE: Researchers in Brazil are working with nanocellulose fibres in pineapples and bananas to reinforce plastics for use in the automotive industry. March 28, 2011 posting]

Nanocomposite and nanofluids projects

The creation of novel nanocomposites is a key area of research for many of ArboraNano’s industrial partners. Two new projects aimed at supporting the development of nanocomposites have been launched. …

You can get a complete list of the new projects along with abstracts and the names of the principal investigators here.

Glass and cellulose nanocrystals at the University of British Columbia

I got a news release from the folks at the University of British Columbia (UBC) about nanocrystals of cellulose (I imagine this is a another of sayng nanocystalline cellulose, a topic I’ve posted about a number of times,  most recently in my Aug. 27, 2010 interview with Dr. Richard Berry of FPInnovations).

From the UBC news release,

Using nanocrystals of cellulose, the main component of pulp and paper, chemistry researchers at the University of British Columbia have created glass films that have applications for energy conservation in building design because of their ability to reflect specific wavelengths of light, such as ultra violet, visible or infrared.

These nanoporous films, described in a paper published in today’s [November 17, 2010] issue of Nature, may also be used in optical filters, sensors, or for molecule separation in the pharmaceutical industry.

“This is the first time that the unique, helical structure of cellulose has been replicated in a mineral,” says Mark MacLachlan, associate professor in the chemistry department at UBC and co-authour of the paper. “The films have many applications and we created them from an exciting new product derived from our wood processing industry right here in British Columbia.”

At the molecular level, the films have the helical structure of nanocrystalline cellulose, a building block of wood pulp, explains MacLachlan.

MacLachlan and PhD student Kevin Shopsowitz, post-doctoral fellow Hao Qi and Wadood Hamad of FPInnovations, stumbled upon this discovery while trying to create a hydrogen storage material. [emphasis mine]

The UBC researchers mixed the cellulose from the wood pulp with a silica, or glass, precursor and then burned away the cellulose. The resulting glass films are composed of pores, or holes, arranged in a helical structure that resembles a spiral staircase. Each hole is less than 1/10,000th of the diameter of a human hair.

“When Kevin showed me the films and they were red, blue, yellow and green, I knew we’d been able to maintain the helical structure found in the cellulose.”

“The helical organization we produced synthetically mimics the structure of the exoskeletons of some iridescent beetles,” says Shopsowitz.

The pores in the helix give the films a wide range of applications. When certain liquids are added to the film, the liquid gets trapped in the pores and changes the optical properties of the films.

“By functionalizing the pores to make them more selective to particular chemicals, we may be able to develop new sensors that are very sensitive for detecting substances in the environment,” says Shopsowitz.

To reduce the energy needed to cool buildings, windows could be treated with the transparent films that reflect infrared light – the light that heats up a building. Right now, metal particles are often used to do this but they tint the windows brown.

This research was done in partnership with FPInnovations, an organization dedicated to developing new products from the forest sector, and with funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

I hope to hear about this soon as it feeds into my fascination with windows and, if I read this rightly, this discovery may lead to products that are both useful and aesthetically pleasing.

Nanocrystalline cellulose interview with Dr. Richard Berry of FPInnovations

Nanocrystalline cellulose (NCC) is one of the most searched items on this blog so it seemed like a good idea to send some questions about it to a Canadian company, FPInnovations, that has been a leader in  its development.  [Edited for typo, July 7, 2011] Dr. Richard Berry, program manager for FPInnovations very kindly answered. First a little biographical information,

Dr. Richard Berry is the manager of the FPInnovations Chemical Pulping Program and he has been the leader of the nanotechnology initiative at FPInnovations for the last several years. Dr. Berry is a key contributor to ArboraNano. His scientific accomplishments include work on the elimination of chlorinated dioxins and the development of a variety of bleaching technologies. Dr. Berry has overseen the industrial application of his numerous inventions. He is the author of more than eighty peer-reviewed publications and patents. The prestigious 2009 Nano-industry award from NanoQuébec was given to him for his exceptional contribution to the development of Nanocrystalline Cellulose. The initiatives Dr. Berry has spearheaded in recent years have allowed Canada to position itself as a world leader in the development of this new nanotechnology industry.

Now for the  interview:

Q: In light of the new Domtar-FPInnovations plant [mentioned here in my July 16, 2010 posting] which is going to be built in Windsor, Québec, could you tell me a little about nanocrystalline cellulose (NCC). I have looked at your information sheet which notes that cellulose is: milled then hydrolyzed with the NCC separated and concentrated so it can be treated chemically for new uses.  In layperson’s terms, what’s cellulose?

A:         Cellulose is the most abundant polymer on earth and is the major constituent of all plants; cotton is 100% cellulose. Cellulose is made of chains of glucose molecules and these arrange into amorphous (soft) and crystalline (hard) regions. These structures provide flexibility and strength respectively to the fibres that are made of cellulose.

The hard crystalline regions are separated from the soft amorphous regions in the process that we are using which also causes the separation of the crystallites in the crystalline regions. These crystallites are nanocrystalline cellulose and have a needle shape approximately 200nm in length and 10 nm in diameter

Q: What does hydrolyze mean, in simple terms?

A:         Hydrolyze in this process means that we break the bonds between the glucose molecules. This reaction occurs far more rapidly in the soft amorphous regions of the cellulose structure leaving the hard crystalline regions largely intact

Q: After [Edited for grammar, July 7, 2011] all this processing, do you have nanocrystalline cellulose and how would you describe what nanocrystalline cellulose is?

A:         The process is to produce nanocrystalline cellulose but many of the processing steps are to ensure that the process is closed cycle and that the acid used is recovered and that the dissolved glucose can be separated to make energy, ethanol or higher value chemical products.

Nanocrystalline cellulose is the basic physical building block of plants which therefore have used nanotechnology for eons. The crystallites are the reinforcement elements providing strength in wood, paper and fibres.

Q: Does the process use up the entire log or are parts of it left over? What happens to any leftover bits?

A:         We are starting from the bleached chemical pulp which is, to a large extent, cellulose. The left over bits have actually been processed as part of the chemical pulp mill processes. The acid used is recovered and reused and the sugars are converted into other products; in the demonstration plant they will be converted into biogas.

Q: I understand you won’t want to give away any competitive advantages but could you describe at least partially the sort of chemical processing involved for these new applications?

A:         In some applications, there is no processing needed at all. In other applications, the formulation used allows the NCC to be effective. In further applications, surface modification is required to maximize the properties.

Q: Is the new plant (Domtar-FPInnovations) meant to be used for producing nanocrystalline cellulose particles for shipment elsewhere? Or will there be work on applications using the nanoparticles? If so, on which application(s) are you concentrating your efforts?

A:         The plant presently is for producing various grades of nanocrystalline cellulose for shipment elsewhere. The applications are being developed with partners in the new industry sectors that we are targeting. Amongst others, we have partners for applications in coatings, films and textiles.

Q: Is FPInnovations involved with the ArboraNano Centre of Excellence programme and its efforts to encourage NCC use in industries not usually associated with forest products? What might involvement entail?

A:         FPInnovations is one of the founding members and had a significant role in setting up ArboraNano.  Our involvement presently is as a supplier of NCC through our pilot plant in Pointe Claire and as members of both the Scientific Committee and Board of Arboranano.

Q: Assuming FPInnovations is attending the 2010 TAPPI [International Conference on Nanotechnology for the Forest Product Industry] in Finland, can you give me a preview of the company’s proposed presentation(s) at the conference?

A:         Representatives of FPInnovations will be at the conference but our involvement will be limited because much of the material we have developed is proprietary to ourselves and to the partners that we have. Our focus at this stage is commercial development.

Q: What kind of research is being done on possible health, safety and environment issues with regard to NCC?

A:         From the very beginning of our project, 20% of our funding has been spent on these issues. We are glad to say that the research has shown that NCC is in the category of “practically non toxic”, and mammalian studies done to assess inhalation, ingestion and dermal risk have all shown the material to be in the lowest category of risk. These results show that the size of a particle is not a determinant of its risk but as with chemicals it is the specific material that is critical in determining toxicity.

Q: Are there plans, at some point in the future, to list NCC on Charles McGovern’s Integrated Nano-Science Commodities Exchange or will your product be listed on some other commodities exchange?

A:         We do not view NCC at the moment as a commodity; it is a very specialized group of materials. We hope it will take a long time before it becomes a commodity.

Thank you very much Dr. Berry.

On a related matter, I was fortunate enough to receive a copy of the documentation that the Canadian federal government provided in response to Member of Parliament, Peter Julian’s (NDP), question about nanotechnology funding from 2005/6 – 2008/9. The response from Natural Resources Canada highlighted funding provided to FPInnovations in fiscal year 2007/8 of $2,308,000 and in fiscal year 2008/9,  a further, $3,2570,000 for a total of $5,565,000. Natural Resources Canada did not fund any nanotechnology research in 2005/6 or 2006/7.

One final note, former president and chief executive officer of FPInnovations, Ian de la Roche, PhD, will be the keynote speaker at the 10th Pacific Rim Bio-Based Composites Symposium Oct. 5-8, 2010 in Banff, Alberta. (Thanks to Joel Burford at Alberta Innovates Technology Futures for the information.)