Navigation Links
New process for manufacturing nanocellulose recognized with the Empa Research Award
Date:10/26/2011

This press release is available in German and French.

Cellulose is a biopolymer consisting of long chains of glucose with unique structural properties whose supply is practically inexhaustible. It is found in the cell walls of plants where it serves to provide a supporting framework a sort of skeleton. Cellulose is extremely strong in tension and can be chemically modified in many ways, thereby changing its characteristics. It is also biodegradable. In the search for novel polymer materials with certain desirable characteristics material scientists have developed such substances as high performance composites in which nanofibers of cellulose are embedded. In the form of lightweight structural material, these composites have similar mechanical properties to steel, while as nanoporous "bio"-foam they provide an alternative to conventional insulating materials.

The ideal lightweight structural material

Classical cellulose chemistry on the industrial scale is primarily used in the wood pulp, paper and fiber industry. Commercial research is currently focused on isolating and characterizing cellulose in the form of nanofibers. So-called nanocellulose consists of fibers or crystals with a diameter of less than 100 nm. Material scientists hope to be able to use nanocellulose to create new lightweight materials boasting high mechanical strength in short the ideal material for creating lightweight structures.

The cellulose experts in Empa's Wood Laboratory isolated cellulose nanofibers from wood pulp. These are several micrometers long but only a few nanometers thick and are closely interlinked. The fibers have an extremely large surface area on which chemical-physical reactions with substances such as water, organic and inorganic chemicals and polymer compounds can occur. Cellulose nanofibers can therefore be used as stable, extremely reactive raw materials for technical applications while boasting the additional advantages of being biologically produced and biodegradable. Such applications include reinforcing (bio-)polymers to create very promising, environmentally safe, lightweight construction material for the car industry, as well as membrane or filter materials for applications in packaging and biomedicine.

The solution lies in chemical modification

Nanocellulose isolated from wood pulp is initially in the form of a water-based suspension. If the material dries out the cellulose fibers stick together forming rough clumps and it loses its outstanding mechanical properties. For this reason the Empa researchers sought to develop a process which allowed them to dry nanocellulose without it clumping and becoming rough. To achieve this, the cellulose was treated using a technique which is easily implemented on a large scale and is also completely harmless, even being suitable for applications in the food industry. The method prevents the cellulose fibrils from forming clumps and sticking together.

The results are worth looking at: after being re-dispersed in water the dried nanocellulose powder boasts the same outstanding properties as undried, unmodified cellulose. This makes the new product an attractive alternative to conventional cellulose suspensions for the synthesis of bio-nanocomposite materials. Suspensions currently in use consists of over 90% water which causes the transport costs to explode and increases the danger of degradation by bacteria or fungi. In addition aquatic cellulose suspensions are laborious to work with since usually in the course of chemical processing solvents must be exchanged.

Empa Research Prize 2011 goes to Christian Eyholzer

The work on developing the new manufacturing process and identifying applications for nanocellulose in various biopolymers was recently recognized with the award of the Empa Research Prize 2011. In a collaborative project with the Lule University of Technology, Sweden, Empa researcher and PhD student Christian Eyholzer and his co-workers used the novel nanocellulose powder to reinforce adhesives, hydrogels and biodegradable synthetics. After completing his doctoral dissertation Eyholzer left Empa and is currently employed by Sika as project leader in the product development department.


'/>"/>
Contact: Dr. Tanja Zimmermann
tanja.zimmermann@empa.ch
41-587-654-115
Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (EMPA)
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Advancing next gen biofuels by turning up the heat on biomass pretreatment processes
2. VideoIQ and FLIR Announce New Thermal Analytics Processor
3. Scripps Research scientists expand knowledge of cell process involved in many diseases
4. Study: New process that can save at-risk cancer patients is effective and significantly less costly
5. New process that may save lives of cancer patients is effective and significantly less costly
6. Ancient glacial melting process similar to existing concerns about Antarctica, Greenland
7. 1st large-scale map of a plants protein network addresses evolution, disease process
8. Processes for obtaining ecological compound that can optimize biodiesel enhanced
9. Public prefers limited informed consent process for biobanks
10. Breaking the chain: Molecular cap blocks processes that lead to Alzheimers, HIV
11. Researchers find process of cervical ripening differs between term and preterm birth
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:1/3/2017)... , Jan. 3, 2017 Onitor, provider ... introduction of Onitor Track, an innovative biometric data-driven program ... showcasing this month at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show ... In the U.S., the World Health Organization ... than two-thirds of adults who are overweight or obese. ...
(Date:12/20/2016)... N.C. and GENEVA, Dec, 20, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... biometric data sensor technology, and STMicroelectronics ... the spectrum of electronics applications, announced today the ... development kit for biometric wearables that includes ST,s ... with Valencell,s Benchmark™ biometric sensor system. ...
(Date:12/16/2016)... -- The global wearable medical device market, in terms of value, ... 5.31 billion in 2016, at a CAGR of 18.0% during the ... ... medical devices, launch of a growing number of smartphone-based healthcare apps ... providers, and increasing focus on physical fitness. Furthermore, ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:1/12/2017)... ... 2017 , ... Each year, Crain’s Detroit Business News ranks the most innovative ... patent estate of a company, its impact and significance, and the likelihood of bringing ... in technologies that transform energy sources such as low dose X-ray and convert them ...
(Date:1/12/2017)... Colo (PRWEB) , ... January 12, 2017 , ... ... then to targeted treatments, 26-year-old Lisa Rosendahl’s doctors gave her only a few ... describes a new drug combination that has stabilized Rosendahl’s disease and increased both ...
(Date:1/12/2017)... PORTLAND, Oregon and Pune, India , January 12, 2017 ... In vitro Toxicity Testing Market by Type and End Users - Global Opportunity Analysis ... reach $7,813 million by 2022 from $2,921 million in 2015, growing at a CAGR ... ... Allied Market Research Logo ...
(Date:1/11/2017)... ... January 11, 2017 , ... Phase ... show early promise of the investigational anti-cancer agent tucatinib (formerly ONT-380) against HER2+ ... treatment regimens. Twenty-seven percent of these heavily pretreated patients saw clinical benefit from ...
Breaking Biology Technology: