MONTREAL - Nano technology will soon enter the wood products lexicon, as CelluForce starts up its first plant. Super wood products spun from NanoCrystallin Cellulose (NCC), could include jumbo jets, bridges as well as fabrics and electronics.
CelluForce was formed as a joint venture by forestry and paper firm Domtar Corp. and FPInnovations. For the last eight weeks, CelluForce has been progressively starting up the equipment for the first ever large-scale production of NCC.
Nanomaterials consist of particles or fibers smaller in dimension than the width of a human hair, which combine to form extremely strong yet lightweight materials.
The first CelluForce products, which go under the brand names of CelluForce Impact and CelluForce Allure, will be produced in state-of-the-art facilities located at Domtar's pulp and paper plant in Windsor, Quebec. Construction extended over a fourteen-month period. It required a total investment of $36M including the financial participation of both the Federal and Québec governments.
"Wood pulp is being delivered to the plant to test the new equipment and we are making progress on a daily basis," says CEO Jean Moreau. While furniture and particleboard are not on the dawing boards, Moreau says nano-based materials could find their way into many markets.
Montreal-based CelluForce has a workforce of 30 employees operating the first manufacturing plant for NanoCrystalline Cellulose in the world. The 25 involved in production and development since June 2011 went through intensive training sessions, says Rene Goguen, VP manufacturing, "to ensure they were ready to start up the specialized equipment, most of which was custom-built."
Trials integrating NanoCrystalline Cellulose into the manufacturing process of different products are currently taking place, says Moreau, who says he expects to sign initial contracts soon.
Recyclable and renewable, the cellulose derived nano materials improve strength, durability and toughness, and can reduce damage caused by wear, abrasion and light. It can be incorporated into systems to make structures that are light reflective (tunable from ultraviolet to infrared), impermeable to gas and stable over time. Moreau says the advanced material derived from wood fiber will lead to commercial applications largely exceeding those of traditional wood fibre products.
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