Nippon Paper Industries Co., Ltd. has decided to build new verification and production facilities for cellulose nanofibers at Iwakuni Mill, part of its of chemical division, to develop the cellulose nanofiber business using pulp as materials.
Cellulose nanofibers are materials obtained by breaking plant fibers (pulp) down to the nano-order level, several orders of magnitude smaller than a micron. They provide excellent features says the company. For instance, the elasticity is as high as that of aramid fibers known for high intense fiber. They stretch well just like glass as temperature changes. And they provide high barrier performance to gas, including oxygen. Also, as they come from plant fibers, they are characterized by a low environmental footprint in production and disposal, as well as light weight. Cellulose nanofibers are expected to find many applications, such as reinforcements, thickener and gas barrier materials.
The new verification and production facilities for cellulose nanofibers will have an annual production capacity of 30 or more tons, and will start production in October 2013. The facilities will make it easy to disintegrate pulp by implementing prior treatment chemically says the company. The basic development for this has already been conducted in a project called “Research and Development of Nanodevices for Practical Utilization of Nanotechnology” at the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO). The new facilities will be Japan’s first full-fledged facilities producing cellulose nanofibers by chemical treatment. This project plan has been selected for the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry’s innovation site support business, “Subsidies for Maintenance, etc. of Advanced Technology Verification and Assessment Facilities.”
The establishment of the facilities enables the full-scale supply of samples to facilitate the cellulose nanofiber business, and accelerates the development of applications. As a comprehensive biomass company, the Nippon Paper Group plans to enhance its technology to promote the overall use of forest resources, which are recyclable resources, and expand its business domains.