Pursuing commercial production of the strongest nanocellulose fibre
A team of researchers in Sweden invented a process that can produce a unique fibre from nanocellulose. The fibre has unprecedented mechanical strength and rigidity. The goal of this RISE project is to demonstrate that this process can be scaled-up, and to deliver a platform for further development and commercialisation.
The fibre is stronger than spider silk; considered to be nature's strongest fibre. It is the alignment of the nanocellulose fibrils that is crucial for the exceptional mechanical properties. As the fibril alignment in the direction of the filament is maximised, the fibre reaches unparalleled stiffness and strength. The alignment is achieved by both a hydrodynamic alignment of cellulose nanofibrils and a gel transition that is surface-charge controlled.
Current production of this nanocellulose fibre has been successfully demonstrated at bench-scale, however not yet continuous. The goal of this project is to demonstrate that production can be continuous, scaled-up, and to deliver a technology platform for further development and commercialisation.
How can a now manual process be transformed into a continuous process? How can the process be modified to enable spinning of multiple filaments? Which processes can be optimised to reduce the cost of production? How can an emerging technology be brought faster from idea to implementation?
- A team of researchers at RISE are working together to improve the process and demonstrate that continuous production of the nanocellulose fibre is feasible.
- The environmental impact is considered in source material selection and process optimisation.
- Emphasis on project management delivers a shorter path from idea to results. This is achieved by focusing resources and using a range of project management techniques that consider the inherent uncertainty in research projects.
- The project will establish collaboration with partners that have the foresight and capacity to commercialise this technology.
Project success is defined through demonstration of a continuous spinning process resulting in a fibre that maintains the tremendous mechanical properties.
Although reducing the cost of production is a consideration, it is expected that in the early stages of development production cost will necessitate targeting high-value applications.
- Composites: light-weight, strong, and corrosion-resistance are characteristics sought out in the construction, aerospace, transportation, sports and recreation, and energy industry.
- Biomedical: the bio-compatibility of this biomaterial and the exceptional mechanical properties makes it an excellent candidate for high-value, low-volume applications such as tissue engineering.
RISE role in project
This work builds on collaborative efforts of RISE and KTH. The current project is executed by a team of researchers from RISE.
SEK 10 000 000