The $5.5-million pilot plant, created through a collaboration of the provincial and federal governments in partnership with industry under the Western Economic Partnership Agreement (WEPA), will use wood and straw pulp, like that from flax and hemp, to create up to 100 kg per week of NCC for testing in commercial applications leading to production.
Nanocrystalline cellulose can be as strong or stronger than Kevlar (Cellulose 70 to 137 GPa and Kevlar 100 GPa - tensile strength)
Adding NCC to materials increases their strength and stiffness. Just a small amount can increase resistance to stress threefold, making it attractive as a high-performance reinforcing material.
NCC can also alter the surface of material such as paper, changing its permeability, strength, flexibility and optical properties.
A little NCC boosts paper's gloss and changes its strength, stiffness, surface smoothness and bulk, paving the way for new types with novel applications and for paints, varnishes and advanced high-strength materials.
Optical films enhanced with NCC are suited for use in specialty packaging, biosensors and security devices and could even help prevent counterfeiting.
In addition, because NCC is affected by magnetic and electrical fields, it could prove useful as a filler in magnetic paper, electronic memory cards and readers, and other electronic products.
Presumably the Celluforce joint venture of Domtar and FPInnovations will be targeting lower prices and higher production volumes.