“It is great that we are able to do this major investment in bringing nanocellulose closer to production and practical applications”, says Anna Svedberg, responsible for marketing and development at MoRe Research. “There are a few pilot plants around the world where nanocellulose can be produced, nanofibrillar as well as nanocrystalline and very soon Europe’s first pilot plant for nanocrystalline cellulose will be taken into operation here in Örnsköldsvik. In this pilot we will produce nanocrystalline cellulose to be used in application development. Today application materials based on nanocellulose, e.g. films and foams, are normally produced in laboratory scale with a size of cm2 or cm3. This makes it possible to characterise mechanical and functional characteristics but it is rarely possible to evaluate end-use or customer benefits in the form of a product.”
“In order to take further development steps we have to be able to produce material in meter sizes and this is where our experimental paper machine, XPM, is vital. It is flexible and has the right size to become the first upscaling step after laboratory scale. The technique for production of paper and board from fibres is well-known, but the technique how to efficiently produce new products on a larger scale from nanocellulose has not yet been developed. This is the main task for our post docs.”
“During this development project the XPM will temporarily be rebuilt to satisfy the needs of pilot scale production of foam material, film and paper with nanocellulose as main component. Its flexibility makes it possible to evaluate different ideas, giving valuable information for further upscaling. We have to point out, though, that the XPM will also continue to be used for conventional products as well.”
Zoheb Karim about the project
This is a two year post doc project in cooperation with the Wallenberg Wood Science Centre and KTH, with Docent Daniel Söderberg at KTH as supervisor. “We feel very optimistic that this project will enable us to take major development steps”, says Zoheb Karim, post-doc and PhD from LTU whose PhD work was part of NanoSelect, a project within EU’s 7th program with the aim of developing filters for water purification made from nanocellulose. “My part of the project is development of techniques for production of film and treated paper from nanocellulose.”
“My task is to develop production techniques for pilot scale production of foam applications from nanocellulose”, says Daniele Oliveira de Castro. “I did my PhD work on natural polymers in Brazil and in Grenoble after which I held a post doc position at the Grenoble University, researching nanocellulose applications.”
Next year, in cooperation with Mid Sweden University, the group will be added to with a licentiate who for two years will do research on fibre surface modification and the usage of nanocellulose within multi-layer technology to improve strength properties of packaging materials. Both the post doc project and the licentiate is financed by the Kempe Foundations.
“MoRe goes nano, which is possible due to the fact that we have pilot equipment with the right size, suitable analysis equipment and soon a pilot for nanocrystalline cellulose on this site”, says Anna Svedberg. “This is a major investment in nanocellulose and we as a company get the added benefit of an international research environment and at the same time a competence boost.”