There’s a new announcement from the Secretary of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) about building a commercial production plant in Wisconsin for producing cellulosic nanomaterials that greatly resembles an earlier announcement in 2012. Let’s start with the new announcement, from the Dec. 11, 2013 USDA press release (h/t AgriPulse Dec. 11, 2013 news item),
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced a public-private partnership to rapidly advance the development of the first U.S. commercial facility producing cellulosic nanomaterial, a wood fiber broken down to the nanoscale. The partnership is between the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (Endowment) and the U.S. Forest Service.
“We believe in the potential of wood- based nanotechnology to strengthen rural America by creating sustainable jobs and adding timber value while also creating conservation opportunities in working forests,” said Vilsack. “This public- private partnership will develop high-tech outputs from the forest products sector, and promote the invention of renewable products that have substantial environmental benefits.”
The three-year partnership will promote cellulosic nanomaterial as a commercially viable enterprise by building on work done by the Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, Wis. The partnership seeks to overcome technical barriers to large- scale wood-based nanotechnology processing, while filling gaps in the science and technology that are needed for commercialization. Initial funding comes from the Endowment and the Forest Service. The partnership is currently seeking additional public and private sector funding.
Together with partners, this new venture will:
- Emphasize the potential of wood- based nanotechnology for the economy and the environment.
- Overcome technical barriers to commercialization of wood- based nanotechnology.
- Demonstrate commitment to creating high paying jobs in rural America through value- added manufacturing and high value products.
- Showcase the commitment of USDA and the Forest Service to innovation.
The previous announcement which I covered in my July 27, 2012 posting has some similarities, although they were announcing the expected construction of a pilot plant for a specific forest-derived cellulosic nanomaterial,,
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.
…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.
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.
At a guess I’d say plans were changed (to my knowledge there’ve been no announcements about the opening of a pilot plant) and they decided that a commercial plant in a private/public partnership would be the way to go. I notice they’re very careful to use the term cellulosic nanomaterials, which suggests they will be producing not just the crystals mentioned in the 2012 story but fibrils and more.
On the Canadian side of things,, Alberta gave its pilot cellulose nanocrystal (CNC, aka, nanocrystalline cellulose [NCC]) plant a soft launch in Sept. 2013, as per my Nov. 19, 2013 posting, and Quebec’s CelluForce plant (a Domtar/FPInnovations partnership [private/public]) has a stockpile of the crystals and is, to my knowledge (my Oct. 3, 2013 posting), is not producing any additional material.