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Swanno

Carbon is so last year

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From new scientist:

 

THE hottest new material in town is light, strong and conducts electricity. What's more, it's been around a long, long time.

 

Nanocrystalline cellulose (NCC), which is produced by processing wood pulp, is being hailed as the latest wonder material. Japan-based Pioneer Electronics is applying it to the next generation of flexible electronic displays. IBM is using it to create components for computers. Even the US army is getting in on the act, using it to make lightweight body armour and ballistic glass.

 

To ramp up production, the US opened its first NCC factory in Madison, Wisconsin, on 26 July, marking the rise of what the US National Science Foundation predicts will become a $600 billion industry by 2020.

 

So why all the fuss? Well, not only is NCC transparent but it is made from a tightly packed array of needle-like crystals which have a strength-to-weight ratio that is eight times better than stainless steel. Even better, it's incredibly cheap.

 

"It is the natural, renewable version of a carbon nanotube at a fraction of the price," says Jeff Youngblood of Purdue University's NanoForestry Institute in West Lafayette, Indiana.

 

The $1.7 million factory, which is owned by the US Forest Service, will produce two types of NCC: crystals and fibrils.

 

Production of NCC starts with "purified" wood, which has had compounds such as lignin and hemicellulose removed. It is then milled into a pulp and hydrolysed in acid to remove impurities before being separated and concentrated as crystals into a thick paste that can be applied to surfaces as a laminate or processed into strands, forming nanofibrils. These are hard, dense and tough, and can be forced into different shapes and sizes. When freeze-dried, the material is lightweight, absorbent and good at insulating.

 

"The beauty of this material is that it is so abundant we don't have to make it," says Youngblood. "We don't even have to use entire trees; nanocellulose is only 200 nanometres long. If we wanted we could use twigs and branches or even sawdust. We are turning waste into gold."

 

The US facility is the second pilot production plant for cellulose-based nanomaterials in the world. The much larger CelluForce facility opened in Montreal, Canada, in November 2011 and is now producing a tonne of NCC a day.

 

Theodore Wegner, assistant director of the US factory, says it will be producing NCC on a large scale. It will be sold at just several dollars a kilogram within a couple of years. He says it has taken this long to unlock the potential of NCC because the technology to explore its properties, such as electron scanning microscopes, only emerged in the last decade or so.

 

NCC will replace metal and plastic car parts and could make nonorganic plastics obsolete in the not-too-distant future, says Phil Jones, director of new ventures and disruptive technologies at the French mineral processing company IMERYS. "Anyone who makes a car or a plastic bag will want to get in on this," he says.

 

In addition, the human body can deal with cellulose safely, says Jones, so NCC is less dangerous to process than inorganic composites. "The worst thing that could happen is a paper cut," he says.

 

When this article was first posted, Jeff Youngblood was incorrectly quoted as saying that nanocellulose is 2 nanometres long. It also incorrectly stated that NCC material has eight times the tensile strength of stainless steel – this has now been corrected.

 

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21528786.100-why-wood-pulp-is-worlds-new-wonder-material.html

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That concept needs more trees harvested. Interesting that the factory is owned by the US Forest Service....the very beaurocracy that controls the bulk of the lumber industry.

 

Tree huggers may be a problem.

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Nano nano!

gmork.jpg

 

Outstanding onesie right there

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Disagree about tree huggers as long as current renewable forests can provide enough inventory for this and existing demand. Upside for tree huggers would be the potential to eliminate plastics. I would think the oil guys would be more worried about it. Write your Congressman now to support this and the Oil Lobbists will be on it soon.

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That concept needs more trees harvested. Interesting that the factory is owned by the US Forest Service....the very beaurocracy that controls the bulk of the lumber industry.

 

Tree huggers may be a problem.

 

They can use sawdust, meaning pretty much any form of wood.

 

Who knew we had a whole forest products lab?

 

http://www.fpl.fs.fed.us/

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Hey..I live in Oregon for christs sake. I'm all for it. No matter which way we drive, we wonder wtf all the hoopla is about. We see nothing but trees!!! With proper harvesting/replanting techniques that we have available today, it's a no brainer. My logger friends dig it.

 

The tree huggers can't see the forest for the trees...

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...I'd think hempfibre would answer -any- supply concerns amongst other things.

...I just wonder how clean the process of 'purifying' the wood is?

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Not that much worse than making paper...

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That concept needs more trees harvested. Interesting that the factory is owned by the US Forest Service....the very beaurocracy that controls the bulk of the lumber industry.

 

Tree huggers may be a problem.

 

I would not say that the Forest Service controls the bulk of the industry. Far from it. Most trees harvisted here are from private land. High quality fiber too. The Canadian wood industry does depend on the natiional forest service. Not so in the US.

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Hey..I live in Oregon for christs sake. I'm all for it. No matter which way we drive, we wonder wtf all the hoopla is about. We see nothing but trees!!! With proper harvesting/replanting techniques that we have available today, it's a no brainer. My logger friends dig it.

 

The tree huggers can't see the forest for the trees...

 

+1

 

Trees are a cash crop. Just like corn with a longer growing season.

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...I'd think hempfibre would answer -any- supply concerns amongst other things.

...I just wonder how clean the process of 'purifying' the wood is?

 

Trees - wood - contain a good deal of acid. Caustics are used to render the fiber. Bottom line, is it is not the cleanest process in the world, but it can be contained with very limited affect on surrounding areas. The worst part is the smell and the noise. Fisheries were at one time endangered by paper mills, now they do very well. We had to figure out exactly what the affects were, and how to prevent them. You need a lot of water to produce pulp. Keeping disolved O2 levels and other variables within tight limits is a key part of the process. At one time it was a pretty nasty industry. There has been a huge improvement in the process, and in the enviornmental management side. Not just in processing, but in harvesting too. One thng to remember is that most of the people working in the mills hunt, fish and live in the woods. We are all concerned about the affect on our playgrounds. It is amazing to watch a timber stand run full cycle.

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Hey..I live in Oregon for christs sake. I'm all for it. No matter which way we drive, we wonder wtf all the hoopla is about. We see nothing but trees!!! With proper harvesting/replanting techniques that we have available today, it's a no brainer. My logger friends dig it.

 

The tree huggers can't see the forest for the trees...

Here is a harvester working plantation pine

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sure they can use bark and twigs,otherwise little utilized elements of the current process,,,,but any idea just what % of a tree is utilized to produce this stuff,,sounds like there'd be a LOT more waste-elements in the process?

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sure they can use bark and twigs,otherwise little utilized elements of the current process,,,,but any idea just what % of a tree is utilized to produce this stuff,,sounds like there'd be a LOT more waste-elements in the process?

 

Where I am working:

58% of a log becomes lumber, chip gets sold to make MDF and sawdust and planeings (and some of the chip) gets burned as a heat source to dry the timber.

 

Dried of-cuts become firewood.

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