Will nano crystalline cellulose save our forest products industry?

Sept09-GeorgeWeyerhauserJr

George Weyerhauser Jr.

According to forestry giant George Weyerhauser Jr., trees will play a big role in the nano revolution, and nano crystalline cellulose will be the hot new raw material.
Nano crystalline cellulose comes from all parts of the tree where cellulose and lignin are broken down into their molecular components. Then through nano fabrication, these molecules can be built up again into materials where the properties are precisely managed, designed and engineered.
At the recent TAPPI and Alberta Ingenuity Conference on Nanotechnology and Forest Products, Weyerhauser addressed the economics of this nano revolution for an industry facing tough times.
“The forest industry is just beginning to think [about] how we can turn these new materials into competitive products,” says the former president of Weyerhauser Canada. “And it’s going to take a major re-investment, a retooling of our labs in order to take products to the next commercialization step. On the other hand, the facilities that we use are all there. So getting the raw material from the woods to the factory, that’s not going to be any different. Getting the initial breakdown of the tree into the components, that will likely be the same. So we have the basic platform ready to go. It’s the knowledge that we have to invest in still. “
Because nano crystalline cellulose could supplant petroleum based chemicals as a manufacturing feedstock, Weyerhauser believes that, over the next two decades, the nano revolution in forest products will actually help the world reduce its energy consumption and carbon footprint.√

~ Cheryl Croucher

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