Lab Canada

Pilot facility to make nano-material from wood and straw pulp

Edmonton, AB – A new Edmonton-based pilot facility will be the first in Canada to produce the quality of nanocrystalline cellulose (NCC) that researchers need to fully explore all its potential applications.

The $5.5-million pilot plant, created through a collaboration of the provincial and federal governments in partnership with industry under the Western Economic Partnership Agreement (WEPA), will use wood and straw pulp, like that from flax and hemp, to create up to 100 kg per week of NCC for testing in commercial applications leading to production.

Recent discoveries reveal NCC has useful properties such as great strength, optical characteristics and very large surface area at the nanoscale. The pilot plant will allow researchers to test and validate NCC from a variety of forest and agriculture materials for use in diverse applications such as, automotive components, paints and building materials, plastics, packaging, health care products and energy extraction.

“We’re excited to be involved and recognize the economic potential of nanocrystalline cellulose,” said Dr Gary Albach, president and CEO, of Alberta Innovates – Technology Futures (AITF). “Providing support to innovations like this, delivers on our mandate as an organization for enabling technical industries.”

The pilot plant is currently being is being assembled/constructed now at the Edmonton AITF location, and a AITF representative says they expect the equipment to be up and running for initial tests in September or October.