The Next Generation of Sustainable Materials - Beyond Paper

S. Ireland, D. Skuse, J. Phipps
United States

Keywords: nanocellulose


Nature, in the form of plants, animals and minerals, has provided us with copious examples of high performance composites, with excellent strength, barrier, photonics and other properties all at ambient temperatures and with natural adhesives. Commodity prices have stopped their century long downward trend and we are now seeing a progressive rise in the face of demand from rapidly growing emerging economies. Increased populations and demands for food, materials, energy and water will change our industrial landscape. There will be a requirement to use greater volumes of renewable biomass and super-abundant minerals with green chemistry that will mimic nature. At their fundamental level, plants are made from nano dimensional cellulose that has extremely high strength. Scientists have learned to isolate the principal building materials nature uses and have started to focus on cellulosic nanomaterials. The work on these cellulosic nanomaterials has grown considerably since the first public presentations of the materials in potential applications in the early 2000’s. Minerals are used in products across almost all market segments. They require very specialized processing to make them ready for use in high performance applications. Combining the technology for making both functionalized minerals and cellulosic microfibrils in an aqueous suspension allows Imerys to create a commercial mineral/cellulose composite material under the tradename, FiberLean™. Imerys has 8000 tonnes of FiberLean™ production capacity in operation and under construction across 3 continents. The FiberLean™ product has been cleared by the FDA for use as a dry and wet strength agent in coated and uncoated food contact paper and paperboard applications. In this presentation we will show the relevance of FiberLean™ “Beyond Paper” across a wide range of markets, presenting the concept that a new revolution is coming to manufacturing in terms of low cost cellulosic/mineral composites for use in markets globally. We will report on the risks and issues with implementation across these segments and present how FiberLean™ will help companies bridge the gap in application to manufacturing.