Market & Research Review: new developments within MFC and nanocellulose

Ole Martin Kristiansen | April 25, 2017

There is a high number of new developments going on in the field of microfibrillated cellulose (MFC) and nanocellulose these days. For example, there are several global initiatives on saving the world from the excess of plastic materials and their pollution by utilizing MFC and nanocellulose. Another hot topic is successful implants of 3D printed nanocellulose being created in Sweden. My third pick of the week is reducing plastic in packaging by biodegradable material being developed in Canada. Let’s take a closer look at this week’s compilation of news from the world of MFC and nanocellulose.


Thermoplastic compounds reinforced by nanocellulose being developed

The US based biotechnology company American Process Inc. (API) and the Dutch companies Will & Co BV, and PRG BV, have signed a development agreement to develop and produce so-called “ready-to-use thermoplastic compounds reinforced with nanocellulose. This is reported API produces nanocellulose under the brand name of Bioplus and their Dutch development partners have seen a high potential for these types of composites. The thermal stability of the nanocellulose under high temperatures is mentioned as one of the reasons why this new and sustainable material can be an alternative for other renewable reinforcing materials. It will be very interesting to follow this initiative going forward!


Implantation of 3D-bioprinted human cartilage in mice

A team of researchers at the Chalmers university of Sweden has successfully printed a hydrogel of nanocellulose, mixed with human cartilage cells, which has in turn been surgically implanted into mice. This groundbreaking research has been conducted to find out if these types of 3D-printing cartilages can work and grow inside a human body. The goal is that blood vessels form within the cartilages. This type of search for new ways of repairing the body has been going on for a while, and last year BBC reported on the subject that the 3D-printing will give a “significant advance in regenerative medicine”. Following these innovations will be exciting, as they are on route to give the medicinal world the opportunity of creating complete replacement parts for the body which may improve our functionality after illness or even extend life expectancy by improving our bodies. Let’s wait and see if MFC and nanocellulose can play an important part in making this innovation succeed.


Eco-friendly food packaging

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), reports that “Canada is pursuing research into biodegradable, eco-friendly food packaging using radiation technology”. The basics behind the idea is to mix renewable materials like starch and mix it with nanocellulose. After doing this, it is being irradiated (which is exposing the combination to gamma radiation, X-rays, or electron beams) to create a material which is more stable and sealable. Thus a new and novel material may improve our current packaging solutions and will for sure be able to improve the environmental footprint compared to its current plastic substitutes. 311 million tons of plastics were produced in 2014, an increase from 15 million tons in 1964, clearly showing the potential for a new and more environmentally friendly alternative.

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Written by:

Ole Martin Kristiansen

Ole Martin is the Marketing Manager of Exilva in Borregaard. He holds a bachelor's degree in Media Management and has been with the company since 2017.