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:3/29/2017)...  higi, the health IT company that operates the ... , today announced a Series B investment from ... The new investment and acquisition accelerates higi,s strategy to ... population health activities through the collection and workflow integration ... collects and secures data today on behalf of over ...
(Date:3/24/2017)... MILAN , March 24, 2017 The Controller ... Deputy Controller Mr. Abdulla Algeen have received the prestigious international ... Continue Reading ... ... small picture) and Deputy Controller Abdulla Algeen (small picture on the right) ...
(Date:3/23/2017)... , Mar. 23, 2017 Research and Markets ... Market Analysis & Trends - Industry Forecast to 2025" report ... ... at a CAGR of around 8.8% over the next decade to ... report analyzes the market estimates and forecasts for all the given ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:5/24/2017)... , May 23, 2017 As Ebola resurfaces ... with four deaths and 20 suspected cases now reported, a ... the PubMed database, showed a correlation between the 2014 and ... Replikin counts rose sharply in 2012-13, which preceded the 2014 ... in the Ebola gene Replikin counts in 2014-15, which again ...
(Date:5/23/2017)... Kong (PRWEB) , ... May 22, 2017 , ... ... third year in a row in the Aragon Research Globe™ for Corporate Learning, ... align with industry direction and market demand, and effectively perform against those strategies. ...
(Date:5/23/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... May 23, 2017 , ... Bacterial biofilms, ... polymeric molecules, can cause diverse pathologies ranging from food poisoning and catheter infections to ... biofilms is in the tens of billions of dollars per year, there is currently ...
(Date:5/22/2017)... ... 2017 , ... Cancer diagnostics and pathology workflow solution provider ... Association for Pathology Informatics Annual Summit at the Wyndham Grand Hotel ... Diagnostic Cockpit and Consultation Portal, Inspirata will present research it led to help ...
Breaking Biology Technology: