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Alberta’s ‘one-of-a-kind’ $5.5 million cellulose nanocrystals pilot plant commissioned

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Alberta’s ‘one-of-a-kind’ $5.5 million cellulose nanocrystals pilot plant commissioned

October 01, 2013 - 11:17

EDMONTON, Sept. 12, 2013 (Press Release) -Alberta's one-of-a-kind Cellulose Nanocrystals (CNC) pilot plant, which produces up to 100 kilograms of CNC per week, was commissioned today at Alberta Innovates-Technology Futures' (AITF) Mill Woods facility before a crowd of researchers, industry leaders and government representatives.

The $5.5-million pilot plant, created through a collaboration of the governments of Canada and Alberta in partnership with industry under the Western Economic Partnership Agreement (WEPA), uses wood and straw pulp from plants such as flax and hemp to create CNC for testing in commercial applications that will lead to production.

CNC has many useful properties, including great strength, optical characteristics and very large surface area at the nano scale. The pilot plant enables researchers to test and validate CNC from a variety of forest and agriculture materials for use in diverse applications such as drilling fluids, paints and industrial coatings, automotive components, building materials, plastics and packaging.

"I am pleased that our Government has supported this project, which is helping to advance new CNC-based products that have the potential to further diversify and increase the global competitiveness of Alberta's economy," said the Honourable Mike Lake, Member of Parliament for Edmonton-Mill Woods-Beaumont and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry, on behalf of the Honourable Michelle Rempel, Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification. "Through initiatives such as this, our Government is helping to create jobs, growth and long-term prosperity".

"The Alberta government is committed to investing in research and technologies that have the potential to diversify and expand our economy," said Thomas Lukaszuk, Deputy Premier and Minister of Enterprise and Advanced Education. "This facility provides an opportunity for researchers to turn basic research findings into real-world applications that will build on Alberta's leadership in nanotechnology."

"Alberta Innovates-Technology Futures is proud to host and operate Western Canada's only CNC pilot plant," said Stephen Lougheed, AITF's President and CEO. "Today's commissioning is an important milestone in our ongoing efforts to provide technological know-how to our research and industry partners in their continued applied R&D and commercialization efforts. We're able to provide researchers with more CNC than ever before, thereby accelerating the development of commercial applications."

Members of Alberta's and Western Canada's growing CNC communities of expertise and interest spent the afternoon exploring potential commercial applications for the cellulose-based ‘wonder material.'

The CNC Pilot Plant's Grand Opening is planned for 2014.