Kruger, Bio Vision Technology Inc., Groupe Laperrière & Verreault Inc. (GL&V), Woodbridge Foam Corporation, Tembec, Noram Engineering and Constructors Ltd., and FPInnovations are the industrial partners involved in the projects. Provincial agencies supporting this work include the Government of Alberta Strategic Research Program on NCC Applications, Alberta Innovates- BioSolutions, the Ontario Bio-Auto Council and NanoQuebec. Academic and institutional partners include the University of Alberta, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières (UQTR), Université Laval, University of British Columbia, Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue (UQAT), McGill University, and the Nanotechnology Institute for Nanotechnology (NINT).
"So far, ArboraNano has been working on some very promising projects with partners in the oil and gas, printing, and wood coatings industries," said Ron Crotogino, President and Chief Executive Officer of ArboraNano. "The addition of these nine new projects clearly reflects our strong commitment to encouraging cross-sector R&D in support of the development of global competitive products by Canadian manufacturers, and to revitalizing the Canadian forestry sector," he continued.
ArboraNano's contribution to these projects totals $3.35 million with matching contributions from industry and provincial organizations. These projects are clearly aligned with the ArboraNano Network's mission, which is to build multi-industry teams focused on the development of novel or improved products using Canadian forest-derived materials and nanotechnology. They are also focused on AbroraNano's vision of enhancing Canada's industrial competitiveness.
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. More specifically, one project aims to create new paper grades from mechanical pulp by maximizing retention of nanomaterial on the surface of paper. Another project is seeking to substitute fossil fuel-based latex with NCC in coatings formulations for lightweight coated paper. A third project strives to reduce weight and fiber consumption by reinforcing paperboard packaging using cellulose nanofilaments. The fourth project will be investigating the manufacture of nanoporous paper membranes with applications in various industrial sectors.
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. Researchers will also be investigating the use of NCC as a potential unique performance enhancing agent in other polymer systems used in the manufacturing of automotive and construction products.
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. Multi-scale modeling of the structure and thermodynamics of chemically modified NCC will be used to obtain a rational design of NCC-based nanocomposites, gels, and foams. Another project will develop new approaches to customize the compatibility of NCC with a variety of polymer matrices. A third project will seek to improve the properties of wood finishing oils through the addition of various nanoparticles.
About nanocrystalline cellulose (NCC)
Nanocrystalline cellulose (NCC) is a wood-derived nanomaterial, consisting of individual cellulose crystals. NCC is available in several forms, including powder, gel, and suspension. It is stronger and lighter than steel, is recyclable and sustainable, and testing shows that it is non-toxic.
NCC can be used in a number of applications, from reinforced polymers to improved textiles to advanced composite materials. ArboraNano is encouraging scientists and engineers to use their creativity in researching and developing applications for products based on NCC.
In addition to research projects on paper, cardboard, foams, and polymer systems, research is also being done to see how NCC can be used in coatings, adhesives, plastics, drilling mud and chemical additives for industrial applications, such as the manufacture of paints, pigments and inks.
Currently, Canada has an 18- to 24-month global lead in the commercial production of NCC as a 1 ton/day demonstration plant located in Windsor, Quebec enters the final phases of construction. Startup is planned for Fall 2011.
Nanofibrillated cellulose (NFC) and cellulose nanofilaments (CNF) are also wood-derived nanomaterials. However, unlike NCC, these materials are not composed of individual crystals but of fibrils containing both crystalline and amorphous cellulose.
ArboraNano is the Canadian Forest NanoProducts Network made possible by Canada's Business-led Networks of Centres of Excellence program, FPInnovations and NanoQuébec. A not-for-profit network, ArboraNano is made up of members representing multiple business sectors, universities and non-profit organizations. Calling on forest sector and nanotechnology expertise, the Network is exploring opportunities for the innovation of advanced manufactured products that are enhanced through the use of nanocrystalline cellulose (NCC) and other nanomaterials made from wood fiber, by bringing together nanotechnology-focused scientists and engineers from various industries. ArboraNano's goal is to create a new Canadian bioeconomy based on innovative, highly‐engineered, carbon‐neutral products containing nanomaterials. For more information about ArboraNano, please visit www.arboranano.ca.